Thousands of tourists visit Mount Cameroon every year, leaving behind crumpled food wrappers, plastic bags, beverage cans and other non-degradable trash that blemishes the sides of the 4,040-meter volcano.
Their garbage is more than an eyesore. It is a threat to nearby communities who look to the mountain’s forest as a source of food, fuel and medicine and as a place of worship.
It is also a drag on what could be a thriving and sustainable ecotourism industry.
YALI Network member and Mount Cameroon National Park intern Cynthia Sama works with a team to clear up the problem. “The beautiful nature inspired me to choose this field,” she says. “I love to see people very happy, living in harmony with nature and themselves.”
Sama’s team helps visitors and their guides understand that conserving forest biodiversity and wildlife is essential to enjoying the mountain now and in the future. It encourages tour operators to do their part by picking up trash from trails and disposing of it properly.
The government helps in other ways. It identifies “high-value” ecosystems and employs “eco-guards” and foresters to protect them. It has adopted laws and policies and provides funds to sustainably manage the country’s natural resources and wildlife. And it sponsors training for people in mountain communities in how to cultivate cassava, plantain and yam, and how to raise bees.
Bolstering these efforts are environmental groups including Green Cameroon and ICENECDEV, both based in Sama’s hometown of Buea. Working with local communities, these groups provide environmental education and have introduced agriculture, water and sanitation, and health projects to improve residents’ lives in ways that are good for the environment.
Sama, 25, hopes that businesses will join the nonprofits. First, business owners can financially support conservation awareness campaigns. Then, they can start ventures in areas like producing products made of natural materials, opening trash sorting and recycling plants, starting tree seedling nurseries, and even setting up nature-themed amusement parks, she says.
She believes that businesses that implement these practices will grow by attracting “environmentally friendly customers, especially foreigners.” Those businesses also can serve as examples for other businesses in how to promote conservation and generate jobs, she adds.
Long-term, Sama wants “every single Cameroonian to be able to know what conservation is all about” and not to do things like “dumping wastewater on the floor” instead of flushing it into a sewage receptacle.
Sama also wants YALI Network members to appreciate the flora and fauna around them. “Nature is life,” she says.
She urges members to “try as much as possible to keep nature clean and friendly for yourself and for your next generations. Obey the environmental rules and regulations of any country.”
“Join us to conserve the ecosystem,” she says.
Join #YALIGoesGreen this month. Learn how to get involved at yali.lab.dev.getusinfo.com/climate