For many communities along the coastline in Cross River state, Nigeria, the mangrove forest serves as a major source of income, mainly through wood logging for firewood and timber for construction.
However, the forest needs to be protected and sustained so it stays productive for the long term. United Purpose is helping with this. We have created a new project that is helping local communities understand the importance of conservation, understand how to undertake this conversation themselves, and shows them alternatives ways to secure income that is less reliant on the forest.
The Integrated Mangrove Forest Management and Livelihoods in Nigeria project is supporting 15 communities in the mangrove forest in Cross River State (six in Akpabuyo, six in Odukpani and three in Calabar South). The project will ensure community-led, collective action is taken to reverse the loss of habitat and preserve biodiversity, while also sustaining local livelihoods.
Where possible, United Purpose works with local community organisations to deliver projects, and in this case we identified the community-based organization, Mangrove Action Watch. We will work with them so they are in a position to implement and enforce a Forest Management Plan, protecting the forest in both the short and long term. They will undertake advocacy work, ensuring they are at the centre of any forest conservation work in the area at both a local and state level. They will also support communities to have a stronger, more articulate voice, and therefore have a greater say in what happens to the forest – to become a meaningful and assertive stakeholder in conservation decision making.
Further to this, each of the communities will chose an alternative (non-forest) livelihood option to explore, meaning they are less reliant on the mangrove. Cooperative societies have been formed in each community to develop and explore these options, providing support to people to take charge of their lives whilst support each other.
The Integrated Mangrove Forest Management and Livelihoods in Nigeria (IMFOMALN) is a 30 months project by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund implemented by United Purpose in partnership with NGO Coalition for Environment (NGOCE). The project aims to ensure that civil society at grassroots level is engaged in biodiversity conservation and provided with the tools, capacity and resources to establish and sustain multi- stakeholder partnerships that demonstrate models for sustainable, pro-poor growth and achieve priority conservation outcomes.