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Engaging stakeholders for the protection of Cross River National Park

27 February 2024

In collaboration with the National Park Service of Nigeria, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) organised a one-day stakeholder meeting in Calabar on 19 December 2023 to discuss the status of the Cross River National Park and identify ways to strengthen its management, as well as the economic development of communities in and around the national park.
The workshop was attended by over 200 participants including representatives from 30 support zone communities, the National Park Service, Cross River State Government, the Cross River Forestry Commission, the University of Calabar, NGOs and journalists.
Participants identified the main threats to the national park as mining, logging, hunting and habitat destruction due to farming and the expansion of commercial agriculture.
The continued and indiscriminate logging of the forests of Cross River State were noted with dismay, as this logging also threatens the forests of the national park. Participants urged the Cross River State Government to revitalise its Forestry Commission as a matter of urgency.
Several recommendations were made at the workshop including:

  • Strengthen collaboration between the National Park Service, the Wildlife Conservation Society, local communities and other stakeholders;
  • Develop vocational skills training schemes/scholarships for young people in support zone communities surrounding the park;
  • Develop a conflict resolution and grievance redress mechanism to support improved management of the park;
  • The government should tackle security challenges in border communities adjacent to Cameroon;
  • Strengthen links with Cross River State Gover"Arrêtons cela. Luttons contre elle"nment to boost ecotourism;
  • Strengthen community-based institutions to support park management;
  • Improve collaboration with relevant research and academic institutions with the National Park Service on conservation-related research;
  • The government should provide social amenities such as hospitals, roads, schools and boreholes for support-zone communities;
  • The government should prioritise support-zone communities when employment opportunities are available.

The Conservator of Cross River National Park, Caroline Olory, noted that the forests of Cross River State are threatened by illegal logging and their continued depletion will seriously affect future generations. She emphasised the need to put an end to illegal mining within the park, warning that the effects of uncontrolled mining are grave, and added that the small revenues that communities raise from miners in return for access to mines cannot compensate for the devastation of community lands and other harmful impacts.

She urged community leaders to help combat illegal logging: “Let’s stop it. Let’s rise against it,” she said.