Creation of conservation association unites local communities

Published: January 2017
Last edited: April 2019
The nine communities surrounding Mbe were helped to come together to form a single community organization to represent their interests and promote conservation. In the past, these communities have not always cooperated readily and there is some historic distrust and rivalry. The Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains (CAMM) was created with a written constitution and officers elected to a General Assembly, Management Committee, Board of Trustees and a Technical and Supervisory Stakeholders Group. Regular CAMM meetings now promote dialogue and have improved trust between the nine communities. CAMM also represents local interests and perspectives when dealing with local and state government. WCS facilitated legal registration of CAMM in 2013 and is supporting capacity building of CAMM and construction of a headquarters.

Classifications

Category
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Co-management building
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Legal and policy frameworks, policy advocacy
Alliance and partnership development
Management planning
Scale of implementation
Local
Phase of solution
Monitoring
Documentation and dissemination of results
Review phase

Enabling factors

The communities needed to trust each other and work together towards a single purpose. Significant time was needed to establish this trust, since there are frequent disagreements among the communities. Presence of an NGO to facilitate the process was critical to success. The initiative also had support from influential local politicians and businessmen as well as the Cross River State Forestry Commission – government agency responsible for the management of wildlife and forests within the state

Lessons learned

To fully secure local land tenure the nine communities, or CAMM, require a certificate(s) of occupancy from the state government. A benefit sharing formula was required since the communities do not own equal areas of forest within the Mbe Mountains.The nine communities don’t yet trust each other fully and there are periodic disputes, which are best resolved by CAMM. Within each community there are often a number of men known as elites who typically act for selfish interests rather than for the common good. As CAMM has become stronger it has been able to reduce the influence of these elites. The influence of the Chairman of Boki Local Government Area has also helped. The penalties against poaching are low and not always enforced by CAMM. Stricter penalties may be required, legalized as local government bylaws. The CAMM constitution is large and cumbersome and needs to be streamlined. Levels of capacity within CAMM are low - needs close mentoring and long-term financial support from WCS.