Equatorial Guinea´s Biodiversity
Biodiversity in Equatorial Guinea is an infinite source of life and resources. From Rumbo Malabo, we encourage responsible ecotourism to preserve those vital resources for its people.
Biodiversity envelops a variety of organized living species. They cohabit with us on the planet: animals, plants, viruses, and even bacteria. Moreover, it also covers their ecosystems and the genes that make each species different from the rest.
History of biodiversity in Equatorial Guinea
Since the human species became fully aware of the natural world for the first time, nature seemed immune and overflowing with flora and fauna, from the mountains and oceans to the continental prairies.
This point of view changed in the last century. Over the past 50 years, technology and globalization have defined the destruction of the environment.
Since the beginning of agriculture, human survival has domesticated wild plants for medicine and food. An example is the Osang or the Ekuk, often used for different diseases
However, many of those plants that our grandparents used are destroyed before we found out whether they had food or medicinal value. Unfortunately, that knowledge is missing due to a loss of communication within generations.
To fan the flames, we now face new dangers. Complete ecosystems are facing environmental tensions, such as the estuaries of the Campo and Muni river, coral reefs, or mountain forests, including Monte Alén. Another factor is pollution, the rising development of neighboring villages, and the new excessive building of infrastructures.
Despite all the mistreatment they endure, these ecosystems clean the water by eliminating contaminants, provide the air we breathe, and produce much of our food. If we lost them, people with low income would face great famine.
Why is biodiversity essential in Equatorial Guinea?
Until now, we lived in small isolated groups in our villages, completely immersed in our local ecosystems. All our food, clothing, shelter, even our medicine came from the product of our environment, including the animals and plants.
If we ask our elders about their way of life, almost all of them, will tell us that they lived from working in the forest: fishing, or hunting. Even playful activities, like the Akong, started from the seeds of nature.
Why is it so difficult for us today to understand the importance of biodiversity?
We have forgotten this mainly because of the invention of agriculture. In the case of Equatorial Guinea, now we have the capacity to import product that is not from the region.
This trade has completely changed the human relationship with the environment. We’ve gone from living together, to being lords and masters of the ecosystems.
What is the difference between living on organic fruits and agriculture?
The answer is very simple. To live at the expense of our comfort, we must destroy the original ecosystems that have served us so well, thus destroying the organic fruits we assumed. We are very much aware of cocoa and coffee, although they do not originate in this region
How can we measure ecological success?
Agriculture completely violated the natural regulation that controlled the size of our population. It was the case of the tribes, many years ago, to which are now settled in the territories we are familiar with. There, we began to grow and expand.
You might think that we are in a continuous race to feed ourselves because each revolution or ingenious expansion in the agricultural field is followed by an increase in population. In simpler words, there are always people somewhere on the verge of hunger.
What are the values of biodiversity in Equatorial Guinea?
The values of diversity are functional (benefits to medicine and agriculture), ecosystem services (vital functions such as oxygen production) and moral and ethical values.
Although we are directly unaware of the reality of biodiversity, we know that these three categories are of vital importance in modern human life.
Practical values of biodiversity
Many think that food comes from the supermarket and we do not have a clear idea of its origin. How many kids think milk comes from the brick?
It is true that, with new advances in biotechnology, humans have learned to inject genes into domestic plants and animals to enhance what we want and eliminate harmful elements. But these genes have to come from somewhere. And that place is nature.
Biotechnology has as a first step the discovery of a genetic factor that performs the function we want within known species of nature and, after extracting it, implements it in another substance to improve it. Can you imagine recomposing the genetic chain of a species from scratch? It would be a colossal task.
There are many examples of wild plants that have contributed to the development of new drugs. A clear example is Madagascar’s Organic-Covid versus Covid-19 (if its benefits are finally proven). There are many examples
The key to avoiding the destruction of biodiversity lies in the correct use of local knowledge to develop environmental conservation activities, always meeting the economic needs of peoples and their inhabitants.
In the case of Equatorial Guinea, there are many examples such as tours in natural parks, and all those people who in one way or another help biological researchers who are in our country.
In short, by destroying ecosystems, we begin to approach the limit that the world itself will dictate about which species will survive, and at that limit, we find ourselves.
Ecosystems are essential for our planet
The question is obvious: why should we care about the health of the Rio Campo ecosystem if we no longer live there? Could we not live on the species we already know and collect? The answer is unambiguous: NO, it is not possible.
The global ecosystem is the sum of all local ecosystems, so they are inevitably correlated. Moreover, because of our ignorance, we do not know how much more or less will affect our local ecosystems to a global impact.
Where does atmospheric oxygen come from? Of course, as we all learned, from photosynthesis. However, what our environmental knowledge teacher didn’t tell us is that microscopic single-celled organisms found in the sea produce most of the world’s oxygen supplies. Of course, with the help of terrestrial forests.
If we do not take care of the mangroves, such as those of Riaba, the Rio Muni Estuary, or the Rio Campo Estuary, these mangroves will cease to offer the current protection to our shores, and deforestation will pollute the water, which will make our fisheries resources no longer viable and functional.
There can therefore be no doubt that the biosphere system plays a much more important role than we assume on a day-to-day basis. We are used to vegetables, but it will be possible to continue growing these species as long as we do not ruin the global system by destroying local ecosystems.
A moral and aesthetic importance
As we have previously commented, that the species of the biosphere are necessary for our basic necessities such as food and water, there is another aspect which is the country´s aesthetic.
In essence, it is the thought that human beings cannot be happy or have a full and successful life surrounded by steel, concrete, and plastic. Doesn’t a walk through the waterfalls of Ureka bring you happiness, what about the ascent to Lake Biao? Which is at stake.
The famous biologist E.O. Wilson defines the term biophilia as the innate feeling of belonging to the natural world that is present in all of humanity. And it seems to us that the same sentiment forces us to act against the sixth extinction.
Is it possible to have sustainable tourism in Equatorial Guinea?
Sustainable tourism is the future of Equatorial Guinea. This tourism is based on developing activities that are respectful of the environment and ecosystems, with minimal impact on the environment and promoting local culture. In addition to the economic aspect, this type of tourism seeks to generate employment and basic income for the indigenous population.
That is the reason why, from Rumbo Malabo, we have reinforced our commitment by being members of initiatives that promote responsible animal tourism with international agencies such as FAADA (Foundation for Advice and Action in Defense of Animals).
Biodiversity in Equatorial Guinea: Our conclusion
The conclusion seems clear: our egocentrism and the excessive destruction of our habitat are causing the extinction of thousands of species around us. In Equatorial Guinea, we have a clear example of leatherback turtles, gorillas, and pangolins.
The direct destruction of ecosystems is producing a cumulative effect on the services of each ecosystem, which is vital to prevent our own extinction.
Join our fight and defend ecosystems when you travel to Equatorial Guinea.
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