They inhabit a polluted part of Ivory Coast's main city with few jobs and a swelling population, but residents of Abidjan's slums have a rare respite: a stretch of pristine rainforest.
From their wooden shacks and unpainted concrete houses by motorways on the edge of Banco National Park, the millions who live in north Abidjan need no lesson on its worth. "This forest is a great thing," said textile worker Sebastien Coulibaly, 35, in front of the sky-scraping green mass of vines and broccoli-shaped trees. "It helps us to breathe better -- we live at ease because of it. Sometimes we walk our children there. We must protect it, because our planet will be nothing without forests."
Logging, farming and armed conflict still threaten Africa's jungles, which include the Congo Basin, the world's second largest after the Amazon, but analysts are hopeful. A new global study on illegal logging by London's Chatham House think-tank on Wednesday found that it had halved in Cameroon, once one of the worst sources of illicit timber, since 2002, a decline of twice the global average.
Earlier this year the European Union signed deals with Ghana, Cameroon and Congo Republic to tighten restrictions on logging, ahead of an EU ban on illegally harvested timber that was passed this month and takes effect in 2012.
"We've dared to sanction firms, from withdrawing permits to big fines," said Cameroon Forest Minister Elvis Ngolle. Logging bans don't directly address forest loss from other threats such as agriculture, but officials are hoping that a potential money spinner -- carbon offsets -- will.
to need no lesson
nepotřebovat být poučován
vast - rozlehlý, rozsáhlý
polluted - zamořený
respite - úleva, oddych