Apiculture to engage communities in fighting bush fires, provide income and protect biodiversity - Kilum-Ijin Forest, Cameroon

Full Solution

The project provides an innovative model for biodiversity preservation based on community action to increase the production of Oku White Honey, conserve the forest, and develop markets for finished products benefiting the local populations living in and around high biodiversity areas. We promote biodiversity conservation by regenerating degraded forest biodiversity with native bee-loving and economic trees, which will help increase the quantity of honey produced. The project also strengthens the Oku White Honey value chain by improving the quality of the finished products and developing robust markets. This program helps organize bee farmers, leads to job creation, and increases the revenue of the local population. The development of this green value chain reduces pressure on natural resources, encourages communities to support conservation efforts, builds capacity among community leaders, including women, and improves the livelihoods of the population. 


Last update: 10 Jan 2024
Challenges addressed
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Physical resource extraction
Changes in socio-cultural context
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Lack of infrastructure
Lack of food security
  • Forest Management Institution (FMI) is weak and mismanaged
  • Domestic animals, goats, sheep, and cattle are fed in the forest
  • Bushfires destroy the forest biodiversity.
  • The muti-stakeholder Forest platform is lacking 
  • Poor application of norms for the Oku White Honey and Prunus Africana
  • Production capacity: The production of these goods (bee wax, Oku White Honey,
    Prunus) is still low. 
  • Equipment and support for bee farmers lacking: such as bee suits, harvesting containers, knives, bee smokers, Boats, gloves, etc. 
  • Marketing of honey and beeswax is still poor—those who need them never easily have access to them.
  • Beehive construction needs improvement. 
  • This region has a lot of clandestine commercialization of honey and beeswax


Scale of implementation
Tropical evergreen forest
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Species management
Ecosystem services
Local actors
Forest Management
Bamenda Plateau, Boyo, Northwest, Cameroon
West and Central Africa
Summary of the process

Bushfires are one of the threats to Kilum-Ijim forest conservation, and bee farming has helped solve the problem. When CAMGEW trains community members on apiculture and gives them beehives, they protect the forest. Beehives provide income, so bee farmers no longer burn the forests - instead, they actively fight bushfires. CAMGEW supported bee farmers in selling their honey by providing a honey shop in town. This sustains their jobs and income from honey. To secure honey in sufficient quantity and quality for the market, bee farmers are organised into cooperatives, provided with materials and trained on apiculture.

The environment (in this case, a forest) is a house created on earth to feed and create favourable conditions for its occupants (humans included). The forest needs to be healthy to feed its occupants. Anthropogenic activities have destroyed the forest. With modern beekeeping, we can construct beehives where bees enter and pay rent with their honey (harvested sustainably).

Building Blocks
Inclusive and participatory forest restoration

Kilum-Ijim forest regeneration plays a vital role in watershed protection, promotion of biodiversity, preventing endemism (Mount Oku rat and Bannerman’s turaco) and apiculture, sustaining livelihoods and fighting climate change. CAMGEW’s action in regenerating this forest serves a local, national and global interest. As of July 2017, CAMGEW had planted 70.000 native bee-loving trees in Kilum-Ijim forest within a surface area of 172 hectares and trained more than 2500 community members in tree planting.  Thanks to these trees, communities produce more Oku White Honey from this forest. Forest regeneration activities include planning meetings with forest leaders and communities; the identification of  regeneration sites; clearing of paths for planting by men; pecking and digging of holes by youths; carrying of trees to the forest by women and proper planting of the trees in the forests by community experts. During this activity community members learn about tree planting and types of trees. The tree planting ends with an inclusive ceremony where we present work done to authorities and use the opportunity for forest sensitization. More than 15 variety of trees are planting by seedlings and cuttings like Prunus africana, Nuxia congesta, Schefflera abyssinica, Newtonia camerunensis,

Enabling factors

The project is inclusive with the participation of every person in the community. We have forest stakeholders, women, youths and men together performing various tasks.

Community solidarity has increased as they lern to work together and have their authorities appreciate and encurage them in their activities.

The forest sensitisation while planting and lerning-by-doing in tree planting has increased community engagement in protecting and valuing the forest.

Weekly community radio programs have helped the community understand their forest.

Lesson learned

The community has indigenous knowledge about the forest and when you bring community members together they learn better among themselves and CAMGEW also learns from them.

Community members need training in the field like learning-by-doing in the forest and CAMGEW was surprised that many of them go back set up individual small nurseries and plant nursed trees in the forest on their own, showing they understand why the forest should be protected.

Various forest users participate  in tree planting with various interests: Bee farmers want to have many beeloving trees, rat trappers want to have many trees that give seeds for rats, community waterscheme authorities want to protect watersheds to have more water, the council and govenment want to protect forest heritage, traditional people want to protect cultural sites, Forest Management institutions want to have economic trees planted for income generation

You can only gain community acceptance as an institution when you are installed in the community and take part in community daily live (good and bad momments).

Using apiculture to protect biodiversity and improve livelihoods

The forests of Mount Kilum Ijim cover an area of 20.000 hectares. They are vulnerable to many threats, such as the extensive agricultural and animal-farming development, deforestation and bush fires that endanger the ecological balance. Bush fires are caused by cattle rearers at mountain tops or by farmers using slash-and-burn at the boundary of the forest. The engagement of forest institutions and population in biodiversity protection needs to be guaranteed through conservation actions and livelihood improvement opportunities. With a variety of melliferous plants, this unique forest allows for production of high quality honey. The development of beekeeping is a solution to reduce threats to biodiversity by increasing income for local communities. CAMGEW has used apiculture as a tool to fight bushfires by engaging community members on beekeeping. When community members become bee farmers and own beehives in the forest, they prevent bushfires, and if bushfires occur, they directly put it off to protect their beehives. CAMGEW has trained 824 bee farmers as trainers, who trained 436 others in honey and wax production. Bee farmers received 617 beehives as starting point and have constructed 1972 more. 

Enabling factors

Apiculture is an income generating activity that creates jobs and increase income. This makes it suitable for local communities

Apiculture in Kilum-Ijim does not need capical because beehives are constructed using locally available materials from the forest.

CAMGEW offers free training and provides trained bee farmers with start-up beehives

CAMGEW trains community members as trainers of trainers and also uses locally available consultants for the training, who are available all the time to support community members

Many youths have been involved.

Lesson learned

Since the development of apiculture in the area by CAMEGW in 2012, the number of bushfires has been reduced to about 2 per year compared to 5-8 per year in the past. Bee farmers understand now the importance of protecting the forest and their beehives from bushfire.

The number of women involved in bee farming has increased. Some women carry out the activity separately and some have joined their husband to make it a family business and this has reduced costs for hiring workers. All income now goes to the household.

The quantity of honey produced has increased and this calls for a search for a steady market.

There has been specialisation in apiculture: Some communities are involved in either beehive construction for sale to community members, beehive mounting and colonisation, honey harvesting, collection of beehive materials, honey harvesting, honey marketing, 

The health of the forest is a general community interest and this is seen in their engagement to put off bushfires when it occurs, to protect their beehives in the forest and bee forage like flowers in trees.

Running a tree nursery to ensure project durability and community acceptance

Nursery development is part of forest regeneration and environmental education. CAMGEW presently has 3 tree nurseries located in three sites in Oku (Manchok, Mbockenghas and Ikal) with a capacity of about 200.000 native bee-loving trees. The nursery at Manchok has been existing since 2011. The trees in the nurseries include: Prunus africana, Carapas, Nuxia, Pittosporum veridiflorium, Agauria salicifolia, Zyzigium staundtii, Solanecio mannii, Croton macrotachyst, Maesa lanceolata, Newtonia camerunensis, Bridelia speciosa, Psychotria penducularis and some agroforestry trees like Acacia, Leuceana, etc.  These trees are labelled with scientific names, local names and their uses. Our nurseries served as:

*learning grounds for children, schools and community members on nursery development, types of forest trees, need for forest regeneration, etc

*Sites where trees are nursed and planted in the forest

These nurseries are fenced with live and dead fences. They are watered and shaded in the dry season. Weeding is done regularly. CAMGEW nurseries also need to be sustained after trees are planted. Our nurseries serve as co-financing for most projects.

Enabling factors

The nurseries have a variety of trees that are labelled with scientific, common and local names. This has promoted learning by community members with or without CAMGEW.

CAMGEW do not lack trees for plantig each year, even if there is no funding

Many endangered trees like Newtonia camerunensis are nursed and planted in the forest

Community members and youths learn-by-doing in nursery  development by fencing, watering, shading and weeding the nursery.

Lesson learned

Many community members have learned names of various trees through the nursery.

Our nurseries are used by schools for practical lessons

CAMGEW is no more seen as a foreign organisation, because nursery development is considered a permanent activity.

Youths are becoming nature lovers as we instill in them the spirit to live in harmony with nature.

The old generation is changing their atitude towards the forest as they see the pains it takes to nurse a tree to maturity

Developing a value chain for Oku White Honey to increase quality and quantity of honey, furthering income generation and job creation

CAMGEW uses apiculture to fight bushfires in Kilum-Ijim forest. Bee farmers have been producing honey with no market, due to poor quality and the fact that it is difficult to collect honey produced by individual farmers. CAMGEW decided to organize bee farmers into Oku White Honey Cooperatives to develop quality and quantity of Oku White Honey and its products like bees wax. Through these 5 new cooperatives and existing ones, the quantity and quality of Oku White Honey will be improved to satisfy consumers and meet standards. The honey is certified as Geographical indication product. It will become easy to access and assist bee farmers and market their produce. Oku White Honey is the brand name of honey produced from the Kilum-Ijim forest in Cameroon that covers two Divisions (Bui and Boyo) and 5 Sub-divisions (Oku, Jakiri, Belo, Njinikom and Fundong). The forest covers three tribes (Nso, Oku and Kom). Kilum-Ijim White Honey Association (KIWHA) is the umbrella association for the promotion of Oku White Honey. The bee farmers groups in each village act like family bee farming groups where adults teach the young bee farmers to prepare future bee farmers. Women engage in bee farming with their families to increase family income or as individuals.

Enabling factors

The bee farmers are interested in the production of the Oku White Honey for income and as source of income

The Oku White Honey has been certified as Geographical Indication Product by the African Property Right Organisation and this has resulted in increase in price of Oku White Honey

CAMGEW has been interested in forest conservation but faced the challenge of bushfire that could be handled through the promotion of apiculture in this forest area

Poverty and unemployment hit hard in the Kilum-Ijim forest area, and community members are in need of solutions

Lesson learned

Since the development of apiculture in the area by CAMEGW in 2012, the number of bushfires has been reduced to about 2 per year compared to 5-8 per year in the past. Bee farmers now understand the importance of protecting the forest and their beehives from bushfire

There has been community solidarity in handling community problems after learning to act as one to tackkle bushfires to protect common interest, which is their beehives and eventually the forest

Many women have engaged in apiculture. Women own beehives in the forest and produce honey

Many women have joined their husbands in apiculture and there is no need to hire a second person for assistance. More money is saved in the family and knowledge is passed on.

Many more youths remain in the village to carry out bee farming

The honey sector is better organized, as we held elections from the village level to the section level and cooperative level.So far, bee farmers have been organized in 28 village levels groups and in 6 bee farmers’ cooperatives in order to improve the honey quality and quantity and get better market access.

Setting up a honeyshop to link remote bee farmers to urban markets

CAMGEW, while using apiculture as a tool to conserve the Kilum-Ijim forest, discovered that bee farmers were producing honey from the forest and around the forest but never had a market for their honey and bees wax. Our conservation work could be a failure if CAMGEW could not find a market for their honey and bees wax. Bee farmers could now protect the forest from bushfire, thanks to their beehives found in the forest. CAMGEW had to buy their honey and take it to Bamenda town in order to sell it. CAMGEW created a Honeyshop in Bamenda called NORTH WEST BEE FARMERS MESSENGER (NOWEFAM) to sell Oku White Honey, brown honey, bumble bee honey,  bee suits made in our vocational school, locally made bee smokers, locally made beehives, bee wax and candles made from bees wax. The shop products are available in different quantities for different prices. The Honeyshop provides coffee and tea with honey and some snacks. The shop also sells other home-made items like crafts. It is also a resource centre for bee farmers and would-be bee famers with documents that they come to read on apiculture. Bees wax and honey is sold nationally and internationally. Marketing is challenging, but we are working hard and the future looks bright.

Enabling factors

CAMGEW HONEYSHOP is found in town: The cooperatives sell the honey around the forest area and CAMGEW only assists in marketing of their products where they can not reach to avoid competition.

Many people seek honey produced around this forest area, but due to distance and communication problems, they can not access it. The honeyshop in town facilitates their access to this honey.

The process of exportation of bees wax and honey are complicated for cooperatives and need constant communication, which is difficult for local people.

Lesson learned

There is need to continue working to develop the value chain of Oku White Honey to get more jobs, income and conserve the forest

Running a Honeyshop as a charity  requires marketing skills. 

The honeyshop is appreciated, but needs time and investment, which charities never have

Owning a Honeyshop is a new model because NGOs must start thinking of raising funds to cover some cost than depending on external funding. 

CAMGEW works with Man and Nature France to develop the value chains of forest products in order to create jobs and income for forest people and executing NGOs to better manage the forest. The results are amazing.

There are many good, natural products that are well packaged and analysed in laboratories to determine their values for health, environment, finance, and how they can help in poverty alleviation.

CAMGEW-Honeyshop is a great innovation and once it works, we plan to convert it to a legal social enterprise to help raise funds for CAMGEW.

Seeting up and building the capacity of bee farmer cooperatives

CAMGEW provided the various cooperatives with equipment and materials to enable them to function better. The materials included beehives, honey drainers, honey harvesting containers, beesuits, bee smokers, honey storage containers and honey packaging containers.The cooperatives needed material for honey harvesting and storage, and equipment to drain honey. CAMGEW gave them basic equipment and material to promote a smooth start-off. The various cooperatives have to care for additional material and equipment on their own. There are other institutions that could assist the cooperatives. To access those, CAMGEW supported cooperative leaders with training on management skills. CAMGEW created 5 new cooperatives in the Sub-Divisions of Belo, Njinikom, Jakiri and Fundong. One cooperative existed already in Oku for more than two decades, contributing much experience and success stories. The new cooperatives are learning from the existing one through exchange visits.

Enabling factors

The Kilum-Ijim forest is very vast and hilly, which makes it difficult to transport honey over long distances.

The Kilum-Ijim is one of the most densely populated forest areas in Cameroon: 300,000 people live within less than one walking day from the forest. This calls for decentralisation through the creation of more cooperatives

The forest is divided into 18 community forests and there are three distinct tribes living in the forest.

Lesson learned

Some communities have started donating materials to cooperatives.

Many community members are getting involved in bee farming and this is increasing the security of the forest from bushfire with the donation

The fact that CAMGEW buys honey from the cooperatives has encouraged many persons to get into bee farming because it is a secured way to get a job and income through the market for honey.

The cooperative leaders have learned much from our trainings, exchange visits with the old cooperative leaders and other leaders of the new cooperatives.


Community members who initially doubted their elected cooperative leaders are believing in them now as leaders are gaining skills and becoming apt honey managers and marketers.

  • As of July 2017, CAMGEW has planted 64,000 native bee-loving trees in Kilum-Ijim forest within a surface area of 157 hectares. Thanks to these trees, communities can produce the Oku White Honey, certified as a Geographical Indication Product. The trees planted improve the habitat of endemic species like Mount Oku rat, Bannerman’s turaco, Newtonia camerunensis, and Lake Oku frog.
  • CAMGEW developed three nurseries around the Kilum-Ijim forest with a capacity of about 200.000 native bee-loving trees.
  • CAMGEW has trained 824 bee farmers as trainers, who trained about 436 others on beehive construction, bee wax, and honey production. Bee farmers received 617 beehives as a starting point and have constructed 1972 more hives.
  • So far, bee farmers have been organized in 28 village-level groups and six bee farmers’ cooperatives in order to improve the honey quality and quantity to get better market access.
  • Since CAMGEW started the development of apiculture in the area in 2012, the number of bushfires has reduced to about two per year compared to 5-8 per year in the past. Bee farmers now understand the importance of protecting the forest and their beehives from bushfires.
  • To help beneficiaries sell their products and increase their revenue, CAMGEW opened a Honeyshop in Bamenda. 
  • http://www.dw.com/en/money-for-forest-honey/a-37473719

The beneficiaries of our activities are:

- Bee farmers in Kilum-Ijim forest

- Other forest users like hunters, firewood fetchers

- Women and children through livelihood opportunities like forest vegetables, fruits

- Kilum-Ijim forest community for water

Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
Wirsiy Emmanuel Director of CAMGEW in forest education

I grew up in a peasant home with my positive, hard-working grandparents who were determined to build change makers in their offsprings. Our environment was natural, with forests that gave us firewood, mushrooms, rats, water, wild fruits, honey, and fresh air. My granddad told me one morning that the number of houses built in the community had been increasing, and the forest and farmland were reducing. He said that our forest will be gone in the future, and he is afraid water, fresh air, and food from the forest will be reduced. I was in elementary school, and I could not understand him. He told me I am a child of the community, and their generation is phasing out, so we as children must ensure the knowledge we acquire helps tackle these problems. He said it was difficult to live without water, firewood, and good air and that it was also difficult to avoid development in the form of roads and house construction. He asked me how we could create a balance. This was a big question for me to answer, and he kept on reminding me through secondary and higher education: I had to be the solution. The Kilum-Ijim forest was fast disappearing. I did sciences and studied Environmental Restoration until Masters' level and joined a charity work in the Deng Deng forest in East Cameroon to build my skills in conservation. When I was leaving school, Birdlife International funded a project in the Kilum-Ijim forest; it was ending, and continuity was needed. After working with Global Village Cameroon in the Deng Deng Forest for five years, I obtained the skills and experience. I founded Cameroon Gender and Environment Watch (CAMGEW) to work on forest issues in the English part of Cameroon. In 2011, when I came back home, I received a message from my granddad before he died to come back to serve my own people and forest. In 2011, the World Bank launched a forest governance Development Marketplace Competition, which CAMGEW won. This was the entry point, and we later got many other partners while working. CAMGEW conservation project tackles poverty, unemployment, and women’s empowerment and preserves the forest for ecosystem services. Our organisation is now the leading conservation organisation in Kilum-Ijim forest. By 2017, CAMGEW had planted 63,000 trees, and trained above 600 bee farmers and above 700 beehives. We are converting bee farmers' honey into money, too. I am proud that I serve my people.

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