The Jengi Initiative
WWF in South East Cameroon
In 1995, WWF in partnership with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) National Biodiversity Programme reviewed its intervention to include the establishment of three new forests parks (Lobéké, Boumba-Bek and Nki).
Soon this approach evolved, especially as it was realized that while WWF was concentrating its efforts in the management of those protected areas, the rate of on-going commercial logging in the surrounding zones would give birth to three green belts in the heart of a desert.
One of the many disastrous impacts in such a scenario would be the increasing conflicts between protected area and local communities.
Consequently, WWF’s vision of what it should be doing changed.
From 1998, WWF included sustainable use of natural resources through better forest practices (with logging concessions), collaborative management and benefit sharing in its core business in the area.
In 1999 the different WWF sub-projects were merged into one large programme called, the Jengi South East Forests Programme.
Jengi means ‘the spirit of the forest’ in the language of the local Baka pygmy found in the south-east of Cameroon.
This merger has enabled the Jengi SE Forests Programme to develop a programme that is more inclusive and that does not just focus inside the protected areas, but addresses the issues of sustainable management of forest and wildlife outside PAs and of developing partnerships with local communities and private sector.
The new approach requires the collaboration of all stakeholders, including national governments, civil society, conservation organizations and the private sector to address a wide range of conservation issues within a particular area.
The Jengi forests programme has been designed to achieve not only WWF conservation targets but also contributing to objectives of the plan de convergence widely known as the ‘road map’ for the conservation of Central African rainforests. The plan de convergence highlights priority conservation areas in the Congo Basin and strategies to implement the Yaoundé declaration.