WWF Coastal Forest Programme - The area

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Partial view of Mount Cameroon from the seaside town of Limbe
© WWFCARPO/CFP

An area with a very high biodiversity status

WWF-Coastal Forests Programme – also known as the SAWA programme - (formerly known as Cross Sanaga Bioko Coastal Forest Project) is one of four programmes managed by WWF-Cameroon Country Programme Office (CCPO).

It is located in the southwest coast of Cameroon, between the longitude 8°29’35” – 11°04’20” East and latitude 3°14’24” – 6°32’02” North. It covers a total surface area of 4,481,070 hectares. The area falls north of River Sanaga and expands to the Cross River stretching to the Bakassi peninsula. It comprises of 5 ecoregions, namely;

- the Cross Sanaga Bioko Coastal forest (Korup National Park and the Ebo landscape);
- the Cameroonian highlands forest (Mounts Kupe, Bakossi and Muanenguba forests)
- Mount Cameroon and Bioko Montane forest (Mount Cameroon)
- Central Africa Mangrove (Ndongore)
- Cameroon Crater lakes (Lakes Barombi Mbo, Muanenguba and Edip)


Socio economic importance

Although the original indigenes are generally known as the SAWAs, a large part of the population of the Coastal forests region come from other parts of Cameroon - representing an array of socio-cultural, economic and political identities. They are made up of various indigenous Bantu tribes and immigrants from the grass field areas of the West and North West of Cameroon. Also present are, nomadic Bororo cattle-herders from Niger. These people who occupy about ¾ of the area have been attracted by the fertile volcanic as well as the rich natural resources. Most of them were lured in as workers in the oil sector (the skilled workers) as well as the large rubber, palms and banana plantations ((the unskilled workers).
The area is characterised by a high incidence of infant mortality resulting from malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Poverty, exacerbated by high unemployment, is rife. Falling prices of cocoa and coffee (the major export crops of the area) have not helped matters. Over 60 per cent of the people are farmers especially as food crops like plantains, cocoyams, cassava, banana etc, are in high demand from neighbouring countries as Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

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