Central Africa Programme: Threats in the Jengi Project
Pressure, pressure everywhere...
As commercial timber exploitation increased so too has the population. People have travelled far and wide to the region for one purpose…rape the land.
Key threatsThere is more demand for agricultural land as the population is increasing constantly.
Poaching is also taking a new dimension as more people are getting involved with sophisticated hunting equipment. The situation has been made worse by insecurity in neighbouring countries as guns and ammunitions easily find their way into the hands of poachers.
There was also illegal mining in the depths of the forests as well as ruthless trapping of African grey parrots.
The closure of some logging companies has also increased unemployment, resulting in many more people resorting to poaching.
Recent research results traces origin of HIV virus from great ape populations in Ndongo village south of Nki national park. HIV AIDS poses serious threats to the lives of these poor people. Many young girls including Baka women are easily lured by timber truck drivers who criss cross Cameroon, CAR and Congo. Majority of the drivers are said to be affected by the virus
It took patience, commitment and tough resolve from environmental organizations such as WCS, GTZ and WWF to intervene in the region to save what was fast becoming a rhythm of degradation.
WWF and its partners have succeeded in bringing interested parties together to understand that their personal well-being depends on that of the forest. Both the government and the local population are co-operating and are becoming aware of what it means to manage natural resources in a sustainable way.
Sustainable Logging PracticesLogging companies that were reckless in their exploitation attitudes are now knocking at the doors of WWF seeking technical support for a better management of their allocated forest concessions.
“Some are already on the verge of meeting Certification standards,” says Leonard Usongo. "This means that companies are willing to follow laid down rules to ensure good forest management practices in order to have FSC certification.
In this vein, 2 logging companies, Groupe Decolvenaere and SEFAC have made good progress towards wood certification.
WWF has also been helping communities around the national parks set up and manage community forests. Fifteen community forests of 5000 hectares each are being put in place.
Alphonse Ngniado, WWF Jengi Senior Forest Officer, thinks community forests could serve as alternative to poaching and illegal logging.
“We are helping communities to obtain their own forest units, prepare management plans and properly use revenues generated from their timber sales. This will ensure economic development in the area beyond 25 years,” says Alphonse.
In an effort to check poaching, local wildlife management committees now act as watchdogs to combat poaching and bush meat trade. The communities in turn lease their hunting territories for selected trophy hunting that brings with it huge incomes for economic development.