The three villages that make up the KEB (Kendem, Etoko, Bokwa) CIG Community Forest (CF), have thrown weight behind its creation. They gave the approval, on Wednesday March 21 2018, during a consultation meeting grouping all three concerned villages, municipal authorities of Tinto, and administrative authorities of Upper Bayang, Manyu Division.
According to the villagers, creating KEB CIG CF is very important in the protection of the wildlife species around the Tofala-Mone East Corridor Rainforest Community Conservation Project. The villagers urged the government to hasten up so the community forest could eventually go operational.
“We are very ready to collaborate with the government to conserve our forest. What we need in other to stop us from going to the forest, is an alternative sources livelihood. Giving us the opportunity to manage our forest is a remarkable plus for us. We shall benefit a lot from the proceeds from the forest, while also allowing those key wildlife species inside the forest, to habituate in peace,” intimated HRH Nyenti Ako Samuel, Chief of Bokwa village.
The villagers also indicated that in creating the KEB CIG CF, the government is giving the villages the leading role to take control in the management of forests adjacent communities.
“It is a great step for the government to involve us in the sustainable use and management of our own resources. This shows that the project is for our own benefit,” highlighted Ebai Alexander Tagem, a notable from Etoko village.
Others concerned about the sustainability of their forest, giving the high rate of exploitation, said the creation of the KEB CIG CF, will go a long way in curbing untenable practices in the forest, hence, giving opportunities for those to come in future, to also enjoy those flora and fauna, found today
“The management of our forest has always been a preoccupying thing for me. It is very common here to see my fellow villagers go to the forest and hunt all sorts of bushmeat. Others cut down trees at random, all in the name of farming. I believe that with the coming of the KEP CIG CF, we shall be empowered with alternative sources of livelihood, so many will be distracted from mounting so much pressure on the forest,” elucidated Justine Ashu Tanyi, an external elite from Etoko village.
Speaking on behalf of Government, the Divisional Officer (DO), of Upper Bayang, Lokombe Nafongo Vincent, said the area earmarked for KEB CIG CF, was hitherto proposed as sale of standing volume 11/04/07, of March 2012, by the Minister of Forestry and wildlife.
“Taking into cognizance of the fact that the area constitute a vital wildlife corridor that link Nigeria – Cameroon Chimpanzees and Cross-River Gorilla of the Takamanda National Park, via former Mone Forest Reserve and Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, through the Forest Management Unit (FMU-11002), the Environment and Rural Development Foundation, sponsored a team of experts from the Southwest Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife, to carryout sensitisation meetings,” Mr Vincent Lokombe said.
The Divisional Officer went ahead to calling on the concerned villages to work closely with government and the facilitating organisation, in the creation and management of the KEB CIG CF.
Speaking on behalf of the President and Chief Executive Officer of ERuDeF, Louis Nkembi, the Director of Forestry at ERuDeF, Herman Deh Nji, said the KEB CIG CF adds up to a number of community forests that will serve as a corridor linking wildlife species of Takamanda National Park, via former Mone Forest Reserve to Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.
“The Tofala-Mone East Corridor Rainforest Community Conservation Project therefore seeks to provide long term conservation of the biodiversity of this unique tropical rainforest through a community and municipal collaborative management approach, involving the local communities, the municipal authorities and the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife in the long term management of this forest corridor,” Deh Nji said.
During the consultation meeting, the maps demarcating the villages from the earmarked villages, were projected, to the satisfaction of the communities. The meeting ended with the community members promising to continue sensitising other community members so that the entire villages respect the obligations that come with the creation of the KEB CIG CF.
From 2010 to present, through bio-monitoring, over 150 chimpanzees, 15-20 gorillas, unknown population of buffaloes, Drills, Water chevrotain and other endangered species of fauna and flora have been recorded in this rainforest corridor. This led to it being proposed as a wildlife genetic corridor in 2010.The Tofala-Mone corridor, therefore serves as a genetic corridor, linking the Tofala Hill Wildlife Sanctuary (THWS) and the Mone Forest Reserve. In particular, it connects the Cross River gorillas of THWS to those of the Takamanda National Park through the Mone Forest Reserve.
By Yanick Fonki Ndeley