Louis Nkembi

Community-based Conservation Specialist

Louis Nkembi is the Founder of the Environmental and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), a Cameroonian NGO established in 1999 with a mission to safeguard the globally significant rainforests of the Lebialem Highlands and other montane ecosystems.

With a background in Agronomy and Forestry, and an MSc in Resource Economics, Louis has been instrumental in the conservation efforts in southwest Cameroon. His work has led to the rediscovery of two globally threatened bird species, the Bannerman’s Turaco and Banded Wattle-eye. In 2005, his team completed the first-ever bird checklist for the Lebialem Highlands, while developing new protected areas and community forests.

Louis takes a proactive approach to address the causes of habitat loss by integrating science, education, and community engagement. His dedication and achievements were recognized when HRH The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) awarded him the prestigious Whitley Award for introducing community-based landscape and biodiversity management to the Lebialem Highlands, a sanctuary for various rare plants, birds, and animals, including chimpanzees, drills, and the critically endangered Cross River gorilla.

Louis’¬†work extends beyond wildlife and habitat conservation; it encompasses broader community development and livelihood improvement. By integrating the knowledge, values, and traditions of local communities, he has been able to foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among residents. This approach not only enhances conservation efforts but also provides economic opportunities to the people living in these areas.

The community-based conservation approach championed by Louis Nkembi demonstrates the potential for harmonious coexistence between humans and nature. It serves as a model for achieving environmental protection while also addressing socio-economic challenges in vulnerable regions.