[one_third][/one_third]Some nine communities in Upper Bayang, Manyu Divisionof Southwest Cameroon have unanimously agreed to create two community forests in the area. They made the agreement recently in Kendem village, Upper Bayang, in the presence of government officials and well-wishers. The nine communities include Bakumba, Ayukaba, Chinda,Numba, Kendem, Bokwa, Etoko, Egbemo and Tafu.
These communities are, more than ever, engaged in the conservation of fauna and flora in their forest area.
“We have huge forest just behind our village, which individuals exploit and siphon the proceeds. Creating a community forest will therefore mean, we the indigenes of Bakumba village will manage the economic returns from the forest,” Chief Tata Adolf said.
The chiefs promised to lend total support and collaboration to the project when needs arise.
“We are solidly behind the creation of these community forests. We shall be very much available anytime our assistance is solicited,” Chief NyentiAko of Bokwa village said.
Meanwhile, communities have reserved over 9,834 hectares for the two community forests to be created that is 4500 hectares per community forest. The two community forests dubbed BANCK and BEET community forests were allocated to the nine communities. Communities in the BANCK community forest will include Bakumba, Ayukaba, Numba, Chinda, and Kendem, while those in the BEET community forest include will include Bokwa, Etoko, Egbemo and Tafu.
These community forests, according to community members, would serve as part of the corridor linking gorillas, chimpanzee and other wildlife species of the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, Takamanda National Park, passing through the FMU 11002 and FMU 11009 (former Mone river forest reserve).
[one_half][/one_half]The Environment and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF) is piloting the Tofala-Mone East Corridor Rainforest Community Conservation Project that began in January 2016. The project seeks to create a wildlife corridor, which will serve as a genetic pool linking the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (THWS) and the Mone Forest Reserve. In particular, it will connect the Cross River gorillas of THWS to those of the Takamanda National Park through the Mone Forest Reserve.
ERuDeF is playing a key role for these communities to formally reserve their forests using prescriptions from the manual of procedures for the attribution and norms for the management of community forests in Cameroon. Following the procedures, a lot of sensitisation has been done through information and awareness meetings, the two community forest blocks carved out by a cartographer, a management committee put in place, a consultation meeting organised and documents compiled and sent to the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife (MINFOF) for a two year provisional management agreement to be signed.
It is this provisional management agreement that will give the communities the go ahead to produce a five-year management plan. Communities are very excited with this as they are keenly and constantly monitoring their forest for fear of illegal activities in the forest concession.
The project is financially and technically supported by the New England Biolabs Foundation, Waterloo, Global Forest Watch (GFW), and the African Conservation Foundation (ACF)
By Floribert Assongacap