Cameroon has canceled a previous decision to allow industrial logging in one of the region’s least exploited rainforests, home to rare gorillas, chimpanzees and giant frogs.
The latest government order overturns one signed in July that would have permitted wood extraction across nearly half of southwestern Cameroon’s Ebo forest.
Logging would have destroyed the habitat of a small population of gorillas that may be a new subspecies and threatened chimpanzees known for both cracking nuts and fishing for termites, according to Global Wildlife Conservation.
Without giving a reason for the U-turn, the office of Prime Minister Joseph Ngute said in a statement on Tuesday that he had been instructed by President Paul Biya to reverse the earlier decision allowing logging.
Conservationists, researchers and local groups have repeatedly urged the Cameroonian government to suspend plans for logging concessions in Ebo, which is also the ancestral home of more than 40 local communities.
Ebo’s mountain slopes and river valleys also host at least 12 plant species that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet as well as the endangered Goliath Frog, a shy, cat-sized amphibian that builds pools for its tadpoles out of rocks.