Activities

Cassava Babi village

The collaborative management approach supported by PSMNR and implemented by KNP, MCNP TNP and partly BMWS in the SW Region of Cameroon has various interlinked elements. Each element covers an important aspect of co-management: from the formal agreement, over effective communication to incentives and support to communities; and many others.
The interrelation and continued follow up of each element is central in order to achieve an effective and long-term collaboration between Protected Area services and communities. An important cross-cutting topic is capacity development at all levels, which is crucial for the success and the sustainability of the approach.
Within the framework of co-management of the 3 National Parks, PSMNR is supporting the protected areas in the following domains:

  •  CDA process
  • Cluster concept
  • Collaborative management activities
  • Conservation Incentives
  • Park patrolling
  • Trans-boundary cooperation for conservation

CDA process

The CDA process is a step-by-step approach to sensitise the communities and other stakeholders at different levels on the co-management approach. After this the discussions between the park service and the community take place to agree upon roles and responsibilities for park management leading to the elaboration of the CDA document and the eventual signing by the park and the community.

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Currently, the CDA process is on a good track with all the sensitisation rounds done from the debriefing meetings with up to 200 participants in each park in the beginning of 2012, over the cluster sensitisation meeting with around 650 participants, and finalized with the village sensitisation meetings with almost 3500 participants in 2013 and 2014. Succeeding the VSM the rapid assessment of the socio-economic (ASEA) situation in each community was carried out.

This implies that all communities have been informed in several steps on the co-management approach and the envisaged CDA negotiations. During all the sensitisation meetings questions regarding co-management were answered and some issues discussed in depth. On the other hand the information on the community regarding population and main livelihood activities was successfully updated. This process was finalised by January 2014 in KNP, February 2013 in MCNP and May 2013 in TNP.

During the year of 2014 the park teams were busy to continue the CDA negotiations and signings while at the same time ensuring park protection, cluster functionality as well as the implementation of VDM.

Cluster Concept

In order to operationalize collaborative management, each park is divided into management units. These management units are called cluster conservation zones. The boundaries are not connected to any official or traditional boundaries. Villages of a cluster take over co-responsibility for conservation in their respective Cluster Conservation Zone (CCZ).
Overall there are 91 communities that are targeted by the collaborative management approach. They are grouped in 6 clusters in KNP (32 villages), 4 clusters in MCNP (41 villages) and 5 clusters in TNP (18 villages).

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The communities of a cluster are organised in the so-called cluster platform. The cluster platform serves as information and communication hub for conservation and development issues and a meeting is held every 6 months. Each cluster platform consists of three members per village elected from the VFMC of whom at least one must be female. The park management participates in the cluster platform meetings with at least two representatives present at each meeting.
The Cluster Facilitator (CF) ensures the animation and coordination of the cluster platform and facilitates the communication between park service, villages and cluster platforms.

Collaborative management activities

In order to effectively protect and manage a National Park the collaboration and support of the surrounding communities is vital. A central part is the joint implementation of activities that are needed for the sustainable management of the national park. Therefore, the park management agrees with the communities on a half-yearly work plan for each Cluster Conservation Zone during the respective cluster platform meeting.

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These collaborative management activities are remunerated or non-remunerated. Monitoring and reporting of illegal activities is for example a regular activity which is not directly paid for but forms part of the agreed responsibilities of a community. On the other hand communities are invited to participate in activities such as park boundary demarcation for which an agreed allowance is paid by the park service. Actually reflections are ongoing to identify co-management activities which are contributing specifically to a diverse number of management tasks of the park (monitoring, surveillance etc).

Conservation Incentives

The parks have introduced two conservation incentives for the implementation of the co-management approach:

  • Conservation Credit: These a virtual coupons generated by the community through the participation of an individual or group of individuals of this community in the co-management activities for which the individual, group of individuals or the community receives direct payment for the work done. Conservation Credits shall be used to facilitate village contribution to PSMNR supported village development measures
  • Conservation Bonus: The conservaation bonus is a fixed amount per village per year rewarding villagers’ efforts in collaborating actively in conservation efforts. It is evaluated at a yearly basis and discussed during a cluster platform meeting. The conservation bonus can be used as support to any village development or community project that meets criteria set by the park services and respect PSMNR’s conservation objectives.

Village Development Measures

One aspect of the Conservation Development Agreement (CDA) is the commitment of the park management to assist in the livelihood improvement of the adherent communities.

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The main village development activities facilitated through the park service with the support of PSMNR are pre-selected income generating activities (IGA) and infrastructure projects (IS). Village development projects focus on economically viable interventions and are depending on technical and financial feasibility. The activities are focusing on the 91 communities around KNP, MCNP and TNP. The program is following a value chain concept meaning that not only production but also processing and commercialization aspects are addressed.

Cassava

The implementation of IGAs started with the first cassava project in 10 communities in April 2012. This project was carried out in cooperation with IITA and MINADER. It ran until September 2013. Besides these pilot villages currently 16 additional villages are added to ensure the introduction of improved cassava varieties as well as trainings on improved farming techniques. After having carried out feasibility study cassava processing equipment will be introduced in some of the villages in a next step.

Multi-purpose Nursery and Agro-forestry systems

In a 2 year collaboration with ICRAF multi-purpose nurseries will be set up. For a start, in collaboration with service providers so called ‘cluster nurseries’ are set up. Additionally, farmers are trained on tree selection and propagation. It is expected that these ‘cluster nurseries’ will first serve farmers from within the village where they are established, but then (as from 2015) will serve as training hubs, as well as production units of quality fruit tree, cocoa and oil palm planting material for surrounding villages. The idea is to transform the best performing cluster nurseries into a Rural Resource Centre. An assessment of existing agro-forestry systems will be carried out and models for their enrichment/improvement will be made. Thereafter, farmers will be trained in agro-forestry systems development and make action plans for tree integration in their farms.

Cocoa

Cocoa is one of the most important cash crops in the SWR. However capacities and technical knowledge for proper cocoa farm management are limited throughout the intervention area of PSMNR-SWR. Therefore in a Farmer-Field School (FFS) approach trainings on integrated crop and pest management are carried out to build capacity of community based trainers who thereafter run a Farmer Field School cycle (20 sessions over a period of 8 months) under the supervision of MINADER technicians and a overall guidance of a master trainer. After a first round of 18 villages in 2014, in 2015 22 villages are participating in KNP and TNP.

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In a one week training thereafter cocoa farmer groups who have undergone the FFS exercise will be trained in basic management skill in the Farmer Business School (FBS). This training is carried out by MINADER.
Future supports of PSMNR-SWR are tented towards supporting cooperative initiatives, certification processes and partnerships with private economic operators.

Non-Timber Forest Products

A pilot was initiated regarding NTFP commercialisation in 7 villages of TNP. This pilot included the collaboration with a cooperative as well as establishing the necessary structures for organising buying in very remote villages and selling in bulks to large scale traders. Currently 24 villages of KNP, TNP and the FMU 11005 with 60 groups and around 350 collectors are engaged in the NTFP commercialization activities.

Plantain

Around MCNP currently 20 villages are covered by a project to introduce improved, decease resistant plantain varieties. Demonstration plots have been set up, so-called PIF facilities constructed and the training for framerscarried out.
Infrastructure
With regard to infrastructure development currently a number of water projects are on-going in all three parks. Additionally, a number of farm-to-market roads are constructed in KNP and TNP to disenclave the villages, particular the ones inside the parks.

Patrolling

In order to ensure the integrity of the protected areas regular presence of the park authorities in and around the park is crucial for control as well as for a better understanding of the status quo in the protected areas. Regular patrols are ensured by eco-guards. Patrolling includes the systematic presence of the eco-guards for immediate law enforcement. Besides the field presence also cooperation between appropriate agencies (police, administration, legal department and military) as well as strengthening trans-boundary cooperation with the Cross River National Park in Nigeria for Korup and Takamanda is important for park protection. Certain type patrols (general surveillance)are organized in a joint manner with community members and qualify as such as a co-management activity.

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CyberTracker has been introduced in TNP since 2011 and more recently in the other protected areas with various successes. CyberTracker is a software that can be installed on various handheld devises to capture data – in the case of PSMNR – of patrols. This data includes among others distance covered, observations made on wildlife and illegal activities.
The collection of the data follows a certain protocol. The data can be easily translated into maps for visualization.
In order to streamline patrol effectiveness and improve in reporting, patrol strategies have been initiated in 2012 through PSMNR for each of the PAs following the Ranger Based Data Collection principles.
Patrol strategy documents outline measures to improve patrol coverage and reporting of illegal activities. Based on the demonstrated experience of WCS in this field, it has been proposed in 2012 to introduce SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) in all the four PAs. SMART is an user-friendly software that builds on existing systems but with enhanced usability, functionality and scalability. It focuses on supporting adaptive management and on-the-ground utility.

Trans-boundary Cooperation for Conservation

Both Korup National park and Takamanda National park share boundaries with Cross River National Park in Nigeria with the Oban section and Okwango section respectively. As isolated parks in each country relatively small the whole complex of Cross River -, Takamanda – and Korup National Park becomes an important conservation area.
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Since 2005 in annual or bi-annual meeting in so called trans-boundary conservation workshops either hold in Nigeria or Cameroon, National park authorities of both countries, Forestry Commission of Cross River State in Nigeria and MINFOF Regional Deletations SWR and NWR in Cameroon with assistance of international conservation NGOs agree on common transboundary activities and evaluate their implementation.
As a outcome of this coopertation PSMNR-SWR has supported the process of the elaboration of a,cooperation agreement between the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon for the Joint implementation of trans-Boundary Conservation Activities and Research within:

  • Takamanda National Park(TNP)and Korup National Park (KNP) in Cameroon and Cross River National Park(CRNP)in Nigeria,
  • Waza National (WNP) in Cameroon and Chad Basin National Park (CBNP) in Nigeria,
  • Faro National Park (FNP), Tchabal Mbabo National Park(TMNP) in Cameroon and Gashaka-Gumti National Park (GGNP) in Nigeria.
  • Concretely in the field, trans-boundary patrols are implemented between Takamanda National Park and Cross River National park (Okwango Section) with the assistance of WCS present in the parks in both countries.

The distribution of the endangered Cross River Gorilla extends from the Afi Moutain Wildlife Sanctuary, Mbe Moutains and Okwango Section of Cross River NP in Nigeria to Takamanda NP, Mone Forest Reserve, Kwagene Gorilla Sanctuary, Tofala Wildlife Sanctuary and corridors between these protected areas in Cameroon.
In the medium term, the elaboration of a trans-boundary conservation strategy is envisaged which may eventually lead to the creation of a Trans-boundary Trust fund.

Capacity Development

Co-management requires the active involvement, understanding and support of many stakeholders to most of whom the approach is new. Therefore capacity building of the various participants in the process is crucial for the sustainability of the approach. A two folded approach is used in the context of co-management in the SW Region.

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On the one side stakeholders from the community are empowered by building their capacity on rights and responsibilities. The focus lies here on the Village Forest Management Committees (VFMC). They are seen as potential multipliers at community level. The VFMC members receive trainings on, for example, the forestry and wildlife law, the management plan of the national park, sustainable natural resource management and group animation.
Additionally, the cluster facilitators are trained to better fulfill their role as the communication channel between the park service and the communities.
On the other side capacity building of MINFOF staff supports them in their efforts to implement co-management for the national parks. Eco-guards are trained in the use of equipment and law enforcement technics as well as communication and conflict management skills. The Park Conservator and the heads of units are trained among others in effective communication, participatory methods, team building and activity planning.