Biodiversity Education for All
Number 16 - July 1998
V. Echoimbe et al
Limbe Botanic Garden (Cameroon) aims to develop an international centre for research, education, training and recreation to support biodiversity conservation, with particular reference to Mount Cameroon. To accomplish this, the Gardens have developed education programmes for a wide range of audiences, including schoolchildren, community members and tourists.
School Environmental Education in Limbe Botanic Garden
The School Environmental Programme includes lectures and practical activities on a broad range of environment-related topics such as: soil erosion; plant roots, tree planting and composting. One activity children especially enjoy is story telling, an approach often used for indoor sessions.
To support the theoretical knowledge acquired during classroom activities, special "Garden Days" are organised. During these days, students come to the Garden for an extensive programme of environmental games, quizzes, slide and video shows, and songs. They also take part in practical exercises such as composting and tree planting.
Recently, a Childrens' Garden has been started in the Limbe Botanic Garden, in which children from different schools come to work. The children choose what to grow and look after the plants themselves, with guidance from education and nursery staff. The programme aims to instill positive behaviour in children towards their natural environment.
Each year, thousands of tourists, reasearchers, holiday makers and students from around the world visit Limbe Botanic Garden. The Environmental Education Unit of Limbe Botanic Garden (LBG) has developed a number of programmes to interpret the gardens. Construction of a new Visitor Centre, opened in January 1997, has increased the capacity of the LBG for environmental education to tourists . The Centre houses a library and displays photographs, forestry products from Mount Cameroon and the surrounding areas, brochures on the Gardens, etc. The Environmental Education Unit also runs a guided tour programme for visitors into LBG.
Medicinal Plants Field
Not long ago, the use of medicinal plants was considered primitive. Today, people are beginning to understand the value of medicinal plants. Because of this, Limbe Botanic Garden has developed a "medicinal plants field" to highlight their importance.
The Environmental Education Unit, in collaboration with the Garden Department, has developed strategies to make people aware of the growing need to conserve medicinal plants. One programme highlights the famous Prunus africana on Mount Cameroon. Extracts from the bark of this plant are used in the treatment of prostate gland inflammation. Careless and unsustainable harvesting of the plant and its bark is causing concern for its longterm survival. To this effect, Limbe Botanic Garden is researching the most appropriate domestication methods. Results so far have proved successful, as both villagers and agro-complexes are beginning to cultivate Prunus africana.
Visitors have shown amazing interest in medicinal plants during tours of the Garden, and guides use every opportunity to increase knowledge of medicinal plants and to communicate conservation messages. A medicinal plant booklet for visitors has recently been published. In addition a "smart cart", exhibiting medicinal plants grown in the Garden, is on display at the Visitor Centre. Various medicinal plants and potted seedlings are accompanied by informational literature regarding the medicinal uses of the plant.
The Habitat Destruction Game
This game demonstrates how forest degradation (clearance for agriculture, logging, honey hunting etc. ) can destroy habitats for wildlife, and highlights the fact that, as habitats are destroyed, animals disappear. The aim is for participants to understand the importance of habitats for animals.
Before playing this game, discuss the fact that animals are an intergral part of the natural environment, and have important roles within natural systems.
Mark out an area in an open space - the size will depend on the number of participants in the game. This area represents the "forest". Give each participant a name tag to represent a forest animal.
Provide each of the "animals" with a smaller area, for example a piece of cardboard paper, carpeting or a large fallen leaf. This represents the animal's territory in real forest life. Ask the "animals" to place their "territories" within the "forest" area. Explain that animals often need to leave their territories to search for food and other needs.
Choose one person to represent the "forest destroyer". Discuss what this might mean. This person will need a whistle. When the "forest destroyer" blows the whistle, the "animals" leave their individual territories and move freely in the forest.
While the "animals" are moving about, the "forest destroyer" picks up on of the "territories", then blows the whistle. The "animals" must then quickly scramble back home.
Each time a habitat is picked up, one "animal" becomes homeless, and is eliminated from the game. This is repeated as many times as it takes for all the "animals" to be eliminated.
Biodiversidad: Educacion para Todos
El Jardín Botánico de Limbe (JBL) en Camerún, tiene la de convertirse en un centro para la investigación, educación, aprendizaje y recreo para ayudar a la conservación de la biodiversidad, especialmente en Mount Cameroon. Para llevar a cabo este proyecto, El JBL ha desarrollado programas de educación para un gran número de auditorios, incluyendo escolares, miembros de la comunidad y turistas. El Programa Medioambiental Escolar incluye conferencias y actividades prácticas dentro de una amplio rango de temas relacionados con el medioambiente. Se está construyendo un jardín para niños con un rea de plantas medicinales. La construcción del nuevo centro de visitantes ha incrementado la capacidad del JBL para la educación medioambiental a turistas.