Dr SERAPHINE MOKAKE

Dr SERAPHINE  MOKAKE

Cameroon

UNIVERSITY OF DOUALA

PLANT BIOLOGY

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Work and Research

Dr Seraphine Ebenye Mokake is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Plant Biology, University of Douala, Cameroon. She holds a PhD in Botany (Forest Ecology), an MSc in Botany (Agroforestry) and a B. Ed degree in Curriculum Studies and Teaching Biology at the University of Buea. Her research interest is on forest dynamics and carbon stock of tropical forest of the Congo Basin; specifically in Cameroon since 2018. This further investigates issues of climate change, forest modelling and development of allometric equations that are site and species specific particularly in Cameroon and the Congo Basin in general.

Fields Of Expertise

Forest dynamics
Forest ecology
Botany

TAKING THE CARBON STOCK OF CAMEROON’S FORESTS

Forests and trees play a key role in human society and are cited as key elements in the strategy towards sustainable development for the African continent. Forests and tree-based systems also provide support services for the development of other sectors such as tourism, agriculture, and fisheries – all of which contribute to rural livelihoods, and local and national economies.

 

Only effective and well-implemented management plans will guarantee the sustainable use of natural systems such as forests. To prepare and revise existing management plans, appropriate knowledge of the resource is vital. Forest monitoring underlies all planned forest management.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic may have changed the dynamics of people-forest interaction and the use of forest/biodiversity resources. As household income decreases and food is less available, people in rural areas have turned to forests and forest products for subsistence, which has led to the over-harvesting of natural resources and deforestation. Illegal logging in the Congo basin has soared and where poverty prevents the purchase of modern medications, natural medications are being collected from forests and need to be monitored.

 

Dr Seraphine Mokake is a Senior Lecturer in Botany (Forest Ecology) at the University of Douala in Cameroon. Her FAR-LeaF project is titled Monitoring the dynamics of a tropical continental forest ecosystem under anthropogenic climate change and their services in the Covid-19 pandemic era.

Most tropical forests are found in developing countries where the struggle for development takes place to the detriment of the available natural resources. The development of infrastructure – like roads and human settlements – aids the creation of access points into the forests in search of non-timber forest products (like edible and medicinal plants) which are in high demand. More humans will turn to the forests for livelihoods and medicines against the Covid-19 virus since Cameroon is poor and citizens cannot afford health care. This will inevitably lead to the degradation of the forest and deforestation.

 

With so many people being highly dependent on the forest, she stresses the need for research into how forest dynamics change under the interplay of natural ecosystem processes, climate, and anthropogenic influence; and how forests and tree systems serve communities to alleviate poverty by contributing to their well-being for a resilient livelihood.

 

During her research, forest modelling through inventories will be done in half of the 12 permanent forest monitoring plots in the East region of Cameroon, a wet semi-deciduous tropical forest which forms part of the Congo Basin. This will reveal the forest’s composition, structure, and carbon stock.

Dendrochronology – also known as tree rings – will be used to predict climate change because they can give scientists information about the area’s local climate in the past.

The research will be carried out within forest concessions in close collaboration with logging companies to provide basic ecological information required to prepare management plans geared towards a sustainable timber yield.

 

“Long-term monitoring of forests is one of the most important tools for providing information on forest dynamics. We will produce baseline information on the state of the forest pre- and during the Covid- era for policymakers to use for management decisions, and to determine the carbon stock of the forest,” says Dr Mokake.