Walter Wilson Nana
The Management of Korup National Park, KNP and the people of the Esukutan village in Toko Subdivision, Ndian Division, Southwest Region have signed a livelihood agreement.
Dubbed the Permanent Use Zone, PUZ, the Management Plan Agreement with Esukutan Village, one of the five villages within the KNP has as objective to preserve the integrity of KNP. The agreement clearly carves out a total of 2,940 hectares of land for Esukutan Village, outlining four management sectors; (settlement, farm expansion, farm reserve land for future generation, communal forests), guidelines for their management, roles and responsibilities of both KNP and Esukutan village. It is an agreement to engage in long term collaboration between Esukutan village and the park.
The first of its kind within the national territory, the agreement, simply acknowledges that human beings play a vital role in the ecosystem, especially those in the five villages within the KNP; Esukutan, Ikenge, Bera, Erat and Bareka Batanga. It is against this backdrop including the financial and security reasons that previous option of resettling the five in-park villages was dropped in favour of the creation of PUZs.
Samuel Eben Ebai, South West Regional
delegate of Forestry and Wildlife explained that ‘The boundary of the PUZ for Esukutan has been determined after a rigorous agro-socio-economic, demographic and wildlife surveys and the signing of this management plan agreement with Esukutan village marks the first step for the village in becoming a legal entity within the KNP’
Ferdinand Fotendong the Conservator of KNP will add; ‘Within the framework of the proposed management plan of KNP, PUZ with accompanying management plan is the only feasible scenario for human settlements within KNP’.
The PUZ agreement opens the door for Esukutan and subsequently the other in-park villages to collaborate with the Management of KNP in the preservation of the high-value ecosystem of the park and also to the development of these villages.
The signing event which took place recently in Esukutan village, was under the auspices of the Divisional Officer of Toko Sub-Division, the Mayor of Toko, the Traditional Chief of Esukutan, the Regional Chief of wildlife and Protected Areas in the Southwest Regional Delegation of Forestry and Wildlife and the Conservator of Korup National Park, KNP. Prior to this, there was a one-year participatory process that included; village sensitisation, PUZ studies and negotiation between the management of KNP and Esukutan village with the technical and financial support of the Programme for Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the South West Region, PSMNR-SWR.
The PSMNR-SWR is a development programme of the Republic of Cameroon, co-financed by the Federal Republic of Germany through the German Development Bank, KFW in cooperation with German International Cooperation, GIZ, World Wide Fund for Nature, WWF and Wildlife Conservation Society, WCS.