For those who know it only by name, E q u at o ri a l Guinea is a small country in central A f ri c a , in the m i ddle of the Gulf of Guinea. One of its pro blems is that its regions are ve ry scat t e re d. Th e re a re seven islands (Bioko , A n n o b o n , C o ri s c o , E l o b ey Gra n d e, E l o b ey Chico, C o c o t e ro and Pemba) as well as the mainland terri t o ry of Rio Muni. The nort h e rnmost island of Bioko is 6 7 0 km from the one furthest south (Annobon), while the port of Bat a , in Rio Muni, is 280 km f rom Malab o , the main town on Bioko . This means that Equat o rial Guinea has ex t e n s ive coastal regions and small islands. Also, as a developing country, it has huge problems communicating with and administering such areas.
The country is a big timber exporter, which puts it at the mercy of the industry’s market fluctuations. The mainland coast is the area most affected by this. According to a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) study in 1981, mangroves cover 20,000 hectares of Equatorial Guinea. But lack of money and trained personnel as well as the absence of a broad awareness of their economic importance has meant that these areas have not been developed. These are some of the reasons why my country is interested in the activities of Sustainable Integrated Coastal Management (SICOM), and in all UNESCO’s programmes to do with the environment, small islands and integrated management of ecosystems. We also favour drafting an overall plan for c o m mu n i c at i o n , e d u c ation and training in coastal management.
Therefore, my country would like to implement, with UNESCO’s help, an interactive communication programme which would set forces in motion resulting in an energetic and interact ive re l ationship between the va rious social agents, with the help of the media and the N ational Unive rs i t y. The aim would be to increase the involvement of the population and their commitment to the development process and to change the behaviour of people, groups and communities so as to improve the quality of life of these individuals and groups. An interact ive commu n i c ation programme could be a means of development and social involvement in sustainable management of Equat o ri a l Guinea’s coastal regions and small islands.
Th rough its Conservation and Rational Use of Fo rest Ecosystems (CUREF) progra m m e, t h e
gove rnment is also committed to drawing up a plan for cl a s s i fi c ation and rational use of land in the Rio Muni mainland. The plan outlines a d e s i rable pat t e rn of land use based on biologi c al , physical , technical , economic and socio-cultural crite ri a , as well as on the gove rn ment ’s policies concerning rural development , timber production and pre s e rvation of fo rest ecosystems.
Environmental training is provided at the National University with courses to train skilled public health workers and forestry experts.