Saving forests and farms in Nigeria
The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has adopted an integrated forest management approach to enhance the economy of three selected forest-edge communities (Ebok, Kabakken and Ebranta) in Boje, Cross River State, Nigeria.
With support from Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP), the project “Integrated Rural Economic and Sustainable Forest Management”, will promote activities that boost poverty eradication, promotion of improved crop variety, gender empowerment, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.
The project intends to increase agricultural productivity without losing more forest lands through a Rural Participatory Approach. This involves training the community members on improved agricultural practices. As such, 60 – 90 members were taught new methods of harvesting Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) - bush mango and Afang (Gnetumafricanum). Improved cassava stems and cocoyam seedlings were given to the target groups in each community and a cassava processing mill was set up as well. Alternatives to hunting animals in the wild were identified, such as implementing poultry and snail farms for food security.
This participatory governance platform promotes gender equality, encouraging both men and women to be leaders in the community. During the training, 75% of the participants were women, supporting the fact that women are seen as the major stakeholders in the use of NTFPs and the cultivation process. After being trained on sustainable harvesting and cultivation of Afang, four households have started Afang gardens around their homes for domestic and commercial purposes. Another goal is to establish cooperative societies in each community to coordinate and identify viable market links for these farm products.
Small-scale farming systems, which is a major source of income to the many rural community members, causes unsustainable farming in an attempt to increase farmland area and income. As such, the project aims to build the capacity of Forest Management Committees to review and implement existing land and forest management governance, as well as build the capacity of women and youth.
Established in 1992, the GEF Small Grants Programme embodies the very essence of sustainable development by "thinking globally acting locally". By providing financial and technical support to projects that conserve and restore the environment while enhancing people's well-being and livelihoods, SGP demonstrates that community action can maintain the fine balance between human needs and environmental imperatives. Over 150,000 poor rural dwellers have so far benefitted directly from the GEF SGP intervention.