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17 October 2016

Achieving Biodiversity Conservation by Building Forests Management Capacities of Communities in the Tofala-Mone Wildlife Corridor, South West Cameroon

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 Achieving Biodiversity Conservation by Building Forests Management Capacities of Communities in the Tofala-Mone Wildlife Corridor, South West Cameroon

The Tofala-Mone east corridor in South West Cameroon constitutes a gamut of biodiversity amongst which are primates such as the Nigerian-Cameroon Chimpanzees and the cross river gorillas. These wildlife species are under threat due to poaching, habitat lost and fragmentation through human settlement and conversion to farmland for subsistence. These scenarios thus not only post a problem to wildlife but biodiversity as a whole. Habitat loss and fragmentation also has a negative impact by halting natural inter-breeding across different populations of the species.

There is therefore urgent need to conserve the biodiversity of the area by protecting wildlife habitat and reducing hunting pressure. One way this can be solved is by legal protection of the forest land through the creation of community forests.

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), with support from the Waterloo Foundation and Global Forest Watch (GFW), has since January 2016 been carrying out a project to create four community forest blocks in the area. It will serve as a genetic wildlife corridor, linking the chimpanzees and gorillas of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and those of the Takamanda reserves through the former Mone reserve. The long term goal is to conserve the rich biodiversity/threatened species of the area. The long term impact of the project lies on the sustainable management of the community forest by the local communities. This may not be achieved if the capacities and skills of the local communities entrusted to sustainably manage the community forests are not built. Hence wildlife habitats and livelihoods will continue to be lost, environmental degradation will exacerbate, and natural resource base conflicts will be on the rise. Overall, biodiversity of the area will keep dwindling.

It is against this backdrop that ERuDeF is seeking for financial support to build the forest management capacities of the local communities in the area on key aspects of sustainable forest management, so that they will become apt and able to meet the expectations of biodiversity conservation. The project which is expected to last for a period of one year, shall cost the sum of 200 000 US Dollars.

With this amount, 50,000 USD will be used to sensitize 10 communities on sustainable forest management practices. 60,000 USD will help in the training of 40 local forest operators (community members) on sustainable forest management techniques such as low impact logging (control logging), silvicultural techniques, nursery raising, reforestation techniques, management/exploitation inventory techniques, compliance with legal policies/frameworks and conflict management/resolution techniques. 40,000 USD will be used for the development and implementation of a conflict management/resolution mechanism. Finally 50,000 USD will be used for the education and support of local population on alternative livelihood opportunities and sustainable management of non-timber forest projects.

The expected outcomes of the project are;

i) Local communities have the skills and capabilities to sustainably manage community forests,

ii) Forest resources are sustainably managed, leading to biodiversity conservation in the area,

iii) Livelihoods and standards of living of local populations in the area are improved.

For more information about this very important project and how you can assist in this initiative please go to www.erudef.org

The project shall be executed by long term experience experts within ERuDeF and partners. ERuDeF has a long term commitment in community forestry in general and in the project area in particular. It will therefore continue to work towards the sustainability of the project. It is important to note that GFW is already doing a great job in the area to build the capacities of the local communities, in monitoring forest degradation on the ground, using the new GFW App, which will help in feeding back information for concrete decision making and management planning.