Forestry officials from Cameroon and Nigeria recently met in Bamenda to define modalities for collaboration in the creation of a Transboundary Biosphere Reserve (TBR) around the Cross River National Park in Nigeria, Korup and Takamanda National Parks in Cameroon.

The TBR entails the introduction of a cooperation framework for managing an ecosystem that had been separated by international boundaries such as the case of the Cross River National Park in Nigeria and Takamanda and Korup National Parks in Cameroon.

Earlier in November 2014, Nigeria and Cameroon had been called to submit a joint nomination form for the establishment of a TBR. This call was made in another workshop entitled “Support for the Management of Biosphere Reserves for Effective Biodiversity Conservation”, organised by UNESCO Regional Office for Africa in Nigeria. During the transboundary workshop organized by WCS in Nigeria on December 2015, PSMNR-SWR Coordinator – Mr Eben Ebai Samuel, had proposed the creation of a working group with the objective to coordinate the TBR nomination process.

It was therefore within the above contexts that the Bamenda workshop was organised from the 16th to the 18th of March 2016. The working group resolved to conduct a participatory consultation process which should be attached to the revision of the management plans of the concerned protected areas. The resolutions  of this workshop would be forwarded to the competent authorities of each country.

Most of the management issues faced by Cross River, Takamanda and Korup National Parks are quite similar and even interlinked. Despite major opportunities to develop formal trade relations, most of the markets across the border are supplied with forest resources illegally and unsustainably harvested. Communities are equally dependent on natural resources to sustain their livelihoods with limited alternatives.

The constitution of Cross River-Korup-Takamanda Transboundary Biosphere Reserve should enhance the collaboration of stakeholders across the border for the conservation of shared ecosystems, the promotion of cultural diversity and sustainable development practices.

Unity is strength”, this is particularly true when we are talking about conserving our National Parks and developing communities across the border of Nigeria and Cameroon!