Rooted Promises to Protect Endangered Species in the Ebo Forest

Updated: Aug 26

Rooted in front of the secondary school Ces De Somakek, in the village by the same name, is a ribbon tree. Daily, the ribbon tree receives visitors who walk through the community center and engage with the promises that the people of Somakek have written across the fabric. They promise to protect the Ebo Forest.

Somakek is one of about 40 communities that resides on the outskirts of the Ebo. The forest is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and trees, including many endangered species. In this complex ecosystem, the trees regulate approximately 35 million tons of carbon per year. For that reason, the Ebo is often referred to as the lungs of Western Africa: the rich biodiversity converts the toxins in the atmosphere and pumps out clean, breathable air. The Ebo is life-sustaining, yet, as a result of the economic crisis spurred by COVID-19, the ongoing Anglophone conflict, and lack of governmental resources allocated to conservation practices, it is at risk for deforestation.

The unregulated exploitation of resources of the Ebo Forest occurs because the government fails to enact policies to protect the forest, resulting in civilians not knowing the necessity for conservation at the individual level. Given the lack of protective legislation for the forest, corporations enter the Ebo and cause deforestation by over logging and harvesting palm oi