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