Background

The spectacular Memveele waterfalls, on the edge of Campo-Maan National Park, Buffer zone of ... rel=
The spectacular Memveele waterfalls, on the edge of Campo-Maan National Park, Buffer zone of Campo-Maan National Park, Cameroon 2004.
© WWF-Canon / Olivier van Bogaert

Closely involving all stakeholders

The Campo-Ma'an National Park and its buffer zone have gone through many phases.

The creation of the Campo Faunal Reserve in 1932 aimed to protect the area's rich fauna, and the Ma'an Production Reserve in 1980 aimed to protect economically important timber species.

In August 1999, these two reserves were merged into a single Technical Operational Unit (TOU). And, in January 2000, the Campo-Ma'an National Park was created within this TOU.

From 1999 to 2003, the Campo-Ma'an Biodiversity Conservation and Management Project run by SNV, a Dutch development aid agency, and Tropenbos, a Dutch NGO - with funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) - worked in the area with the objective to safeguard the biodiversity, promote sustainable forest management, and boost the economic development of local communities.

Since February 2003, the Fund for the Environment and Development in Cameroon (FEDEC) has taken over the financial support of the project, while WWF has been chosen to take over its execution, and to mobilize additional funding. FEDEC's funding comes from a scheme created to compensate damages made to coastal forests by the building of the Chad-Cameroon pipeline.

According to M. Djogo Toumouksala, Conservation Manager of Campo-Ma'an National Park, WWF was chosen instead of Tropenbos and SNV because of its long presence and experience in the country. As a result, the long-expected management plan for the Campo-Ma'an area was agreed in just one year.

WWF's project, which is run by Cameroonians - including the involvement of Martin Tchamba, Conservation Director at WWF's Central Africa Regional Programme Office (CARPO), and Bertin Tchikangwa, leader of WWF's project in Campo-Ma'an - aims to regain the confidence of the locals by closely involving all stakeholders in the area's management process.

The general feeling is that although SNV and Tropenbos worked hard and had a lot more money than currently available for their successors, they have not achieved many concrete results, mainly because of a lack of consultation with local people. This has often generated resentment and mistrust among local communities.

"We prefer to work with fellow countrymen who understand our needs better than Europeans who come with big money but don't know anything about our customs and environment," sums up Alain Ngomi, the manager of a local ecotourism project.

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