Limbe Botanic Garden, Cameroon
Volume 2 Number 3 - May 1994
History and Development
The Limbe Botanic Garden was founded by a group of Germans under the Directorship of Paul Preus in 1892. It served as a trials and acclimatisation centre for the introduction of exotic crop species such as coffee, cocoa, rubber, oil palm, banana, teak and sugar-cane for distribution within "Kamerun" and other German colonies. In its heyday the Limbe Botanic Garden was said to be one of the most important tropical botanic gardens in the world. To complement the work in Limbe, experimental plots for high elevation species such as tea (Camellia sinensis) were established in Buea. The Garden possessed a herbarium, laboratories, classrooms, a museum, a library and staff accommodation.
The British took over the responsibility for the Garden in 1920, advised by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and it was managed by a Kew-trained Superintendent. The British departed in 1932 and the garden was directly managed by Cameroonian personnel until 1958. With the independence of West Cameroon in 1961, the curation of the Garden was taken over by the Government. Despite the efforts of many people, the Garden declined during this period.
In 1988, a British-Cameroonian partnership was initiated through a Memorandum of Understanding which led to the renovation and development of the Garden. With redefined boundaries the Garden now covers an area of about 48 hectares. The role of the Limbe Botanic Garden has changed from an agricultural one to one of conservation, education, science, tourism and recreation, to meet the needs of today.
The Cameroon Government and the British Overseas Development Administration (ODA) are collaborating to:
- encourage the conservation of Cameroonian forests by the local people for sustainable use.
- encourage scientific studies of the natural resources for the benefit to humankind.
- develop environmental awareness at different levels of society for a better future.
- promote tourism and recreation in the region.
The Role of the Limbe Botanic Garden in the Future
There are many ways to encourage children to respect nature. They will form the new generation which we hope will protect and manage our irreplaceable heritage. But it is not only the children who learn these lessons; Limbe opens its gates to people of all ages in order to appreciate the garden and gain an understanding of the vast resources our region has to offer.
Tourism and Recreation
Limbe Botanic Garden provides a peaceful escape from the nearby bustling city. With its thematic gardens, majestic trees and ideal setting, it stands beside Mount Cameroon and the country's extensive national park system as one of the outstanding places of interest in the country.
Science and Conservation
The Limbe Botanic Garden can only survive if it can attract foreign support. This means aiming to become an institutional base for scientific research and genetic conservation. It is only with comprehensive scientific research that we can learn more about the plants and animals of the nearby forests and how they interact. This knowledge can be used to benefit Cameroon and the rest of the world, by ensuring the sustainable use of the rainforest and helping to prevent inadvertent damage to this fragile and valuable resource.