Community Forest Institutions To Manage Community Forests In Upper Bayang

Communities in Upper Bayang of Manyu Division, Southwest Cameroon have agreed that Community Forest Institution be created to oversee the management of community forests in this part of country.

This is one of the outcomes of the information and awareness meeting organised recently by the Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) in Kendem, bringing together some MINFOF officials in Manyu, the Divisional Delegate of Agriculture and Rural Development for Manyu, ERuDeF staff, traditional rulers and community representatives.

Organised under the auspices of the village traditional councils, communities present, unanimously voted that CIGs be created to serve as legal entities that will manage their community forests when they are eventually created.

Community members raised concerns on the ownership and allocation of benefits that will accrue from the creation of these community forests.

Reacting to these concerns, Regional Chief of Service for Forestry, Mr. Bidima Antoine Georges, said benefits will be equitably distributed amongst the villages. As to ownership, he explained that any village that has up to 5000ha of forest land can own its community forest.

Concerning security, the Regional Chief stated that 100% security can never be achieved but community surveillance in groups is encouraged. He advised the communities to set up surveillance teams to track down illegal activities in the forests.

Representing the Divisional Delegate of Forestry and Wildlife for Manyu, Mr. Tabi Tabe, thanked all community members present at the occasion and called for maximum collaboration and understanding for the project to be successful. He equally thanked ERuDeF for her commitment in the area.

It should be noted that this awareness meeting is in line with the Tofala-Mone Rainforest Conservation Corridor Project aimed at providing technical and financial support for the creation of 03 community forests within some 08 villages of Upper Bayang. This is part of ERuDeF’s efforts in the conservation of Cross River gorillas, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzees, and other endangered and threatened wildlife species in the Tofala-Mone East Corridor.

This project is supported by the New England Biolabs Foundation, African Conservation Foundation, Waterloo Foundation, and Global Forest Watch.

By Floribert Asongacap

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