THE ROLE OF NGOs IN THE MANAGEMENT OF OKWANGWO RANGE OF CROSS RIVER NATIONAL PARK (FORESTRY AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES MANAGEMENT)
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY -
Wildlife conservation is to prevent individual species of wild animals, or sometimes whole communities from becoming extinct either regionally or globally. Nigeria is blessed with a rich and unique array of ecosystems and great variety of wildlife, but the conservation of these resources remains precarious. The National Parks developed and managed by the Federal Government under the exclusive legislative list, are to enhance the protection of endangered species, promote scientific research, encourage educational knowledge and promote ecotourism.
The enforcement of conservation by national parks in Nigeria has yielded limited results. Beyond the establishment of reserves, parks and sanctuaries to protect landscapes, game, fauna, flora cultural and scientific sites, no concrete efforts have been put in place check the current and increasing challenge of land and resource alienation of indigenous population. This neglect threatens the objective of conservation and integrity of protected areas. To check this looming threat, the Federal government should move beyond fortress conservation to practice conservation with rural development. This involves the recognition of indigenous historical rights over protected areas and collaboration with locals to manage national parks found within underdeveloped communities. Within protected areas, economic growth and development is rudimentary. To achieve harmony in nature and society, the state should adopt and expand conservation with development. Park partnership or collaboration should involve provision of non-agro forestry livelihood alternatives to reduce local dependence on the forest. The provision of funds by the state and international organizations to retrain locals on sustainable agriculture, social development in areas such as spatial development, education, health care delivery, will encourage local communities to co-operate with the park by providing skilled, semi-skilled security labour within protected areas.
Non-Governmental organizations are largely or totally independent of government, and they exist for a variety of reasons, usually to further the political or social goals of their members or funders. They function as charitable or religious associations, mobilize private funds for development initiatives and programmes, raise awareness and influence policies in pursuance of the ideals of democracy, good governance as well as undertake diverse humanitarian projects that could better the lots of the grassroots. Examples include improving the state of the national environment, encouraging the observance of human rights, improving the welfare of the disadvantaged, or representing a corporate agenda.
To conserve our forests effectively, there is need for NGOs to study the inherent dependence of the local people on forest resources and then find ways to implement development projects which will deter them from degrading the forests. Information on sustainable forest conservation needs to be disseminated so that the communities will know the state of forest exploitation, the problems and consequences of their actions, and the need to participate in conserving the forest. The most successful conservation project is that which puts conservation and development activities under the control of the local people (1UCN, 2009). Ekum (2006) pointed out that, there is an urgent need for initiating “sustainable livelihood options” that strengthens rural livelihood security through self-identified and community managed projects. This will certainly improve standard of living for present and future generations, economic security, self-improvement guided by their knowledge and strategies which will lead to sustainable livelihood.
Yamamotu (2011) wrote that participatory forest conservation involving NGO’s and community members helps to protect renewable forest resources with proper consideration of the social status of the rural communities or forest dwellers. NGO’s play vital roles in biodiversity conservation particularly in CRNP and their impact on the communities cannot be overemphasized. They help to build harmonious relationship between the natural resources it seeks to conserve and the people who depend directly on these resources for survival. It also tries to integrate conservation with the natural development in order to achieve long term sustainable development of our forests for the benefit of all.
The essence of this research is therefore to determine the role of NGO’s in wildlife conservation, using Okwangwo Range of Cross River National Park as a case study.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The Cross River National Park (CRNP) was established by the Federal Military Government Act of 1991, with the Cross River gorilla chosen as the theme animal. CRNP is a home to valuable flora and fauna species. It has two ranges (Oban and Okwangwo) which are threatened by illegal logging, slash and burn farming and poaching. The Government tried to stop these forest degrading illegal activities but maximum result was not seen, which is why Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) waded in to assist Government in park conservation. It is believed that NGOs play important roles in the management and conservation of the park to include creation of awareness and enlightenment programs, provisions of funds for park management, provision of skilled personnels to run and monitor the affairs of the park, bringing citizen’s concerns to Government, advocating and monitoring policy programme encouraging participation of civil society and stakeholders in park management. However, agilations from other roles are the provision of basic infractures to local communities to improve on their livelihood, park management and local communities have indicated that the support from these organization are not adequate enough to meet their needs. This position is also held by the management of Okwangwo range of cross river national park. This study is therefore expected to evaluate the role of three of the NGOS operating around the range.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of the study is to assess the roles of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in wildlife conservation in Okwangwo Range of Cross River National Park.
The specific objectives are as follows:
1. To examine the impact of the NGOs in the management of Okwangwo Range of CRNP
2. To evaluate the level of conservation education programmes organized by NGOs in support zone communities.
3. To assess the impact of NGO programmes on the livelihoods of support zone communities.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the contribution of the NGOs in the management of Okwangwo Range of CRNP?
2. To what extent have NGO activities contributed to the enlightenment of local communities on conservation activities in the study area?
3. What is the impact of activities of NGOs on living standards of support zone communities?
1.5 STATEMENT OF HYPOTHESES
H0: NGOs have not committed any significant resources towards the management of Okwangwo Range of Cross River National Park
HA: NGOs have committed significant resources towards the management of Okwangwo Range of the park
H0: NGOs have not played any role in the enlightenment of support zone communities on conservation programmes of the park
HA: NGOs have played significant roles in the enlightenment of support zone communities on conservation programmes of the park
H0: The activities of NGOs have not improved the livelihood of support zone communities
HA: NGOs have contributed immensely towards the improvement of the livelihood of support zone communities.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is limited to Okwangwo Range of Cross River National Park. The study will cover the activities of NGOs in the Okwangwo Range of CRNP and its support zone communities.
However, for proper study, four (4) support zone communities were selected for the study to include: Kayang, Anape, Butatong and Busi; 30 member of staff of Okwangwo range of Cross River National Park and three NGOs were considered to include: Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Development in Nigeria (DIN) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will assess the activities of NGOs in the Okwangwo Range of Cross River National Park and its support zones. In addition to this, it will provide a necessary framework towards exploring the extent to which such operations have significantly improved the management of the park and the livelihood of the local people. It will also serve as a reference material for the management of CRNP and to other stakeholders in the project.
It is hoped that this study will contribute immensely in solving management related problems in Okwangwo Range of Cross River National Park. It will also provide the basis for encouraging the involvement of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) alongside Government and support zone communities in the area for effective wildlife conservation.
The Study encountered some problems in the course of the field work, including:
1. The national park staff were very skeptical in their resolve to provide certain answers to aid this research.
2. The collection of questionnaires was also very challenging to the researcher as most of the rangers administered questionnaire were gone for field work. Thus, the researcher had to wait for days under intense weather to pick up completed questionnaire to aid the research.
3. Financial constraint to fuel traveling logistics was also a big problem.
1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs): These are non-profit, voluntary and task oriented groups, organized on a local, national or international level. They perform a variety of service and humanitarian functions, like creation of awareness and enlightenment programmes, provision of funds, and provision of skilled personnel, bringing citizens concerns to government advocating and monitoring policy and programme, encouraging participation of civil society/stakeholders & enhancing alternative livelihood options.
Protected Areas: According to the international union for the conservation of nature (IUCN), Protected Area is an area of land and/or sea, especially dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity and of natural and associated cultural resources; which is managed through legal or other effective means.
Management: The organization and coordination of the activities of a business or a thing in order to achieve defined objectives. It involves reaching organization goals by working with and through people and other organizational resources. Management functions include planning, organizing, influencing and controlling.
Biodiversity: This is the degree of variation of life. It is the totality of genes, species and ecosystems of a region. It is a contraction of biological diversity and a term commonly used to describe the number, variety and variability of living organisms.
Livelihood: This refers to the means of securing the basic necessities –food, water, shelter and clothing- of life. It is defined as a set of activities involving securing water, food, fodder, medicine, shelter, clothing and the capacity to acquire the above necessities; working either individually or as a group by using endowments (both human and material) for meeting the requirements of the self and his/her household on a sustainable basis.
Alternative Livelihood: This is simply a different means of survival other than the regular unsustainable livelihood activities. They are simply livelihoods that exist outside of the traditional or established activities for a given area.
Development: Development is defined as the systematic use of scientific and technical knowledge to meet specific objectives or requirements. It is the process of economic and social transformation that is based on complex cultural and environmental factors and their interactions.
Conservation: This is the act of exploitation, improvement, preservation, protection and/or restoration of the natural environment, natural ecosystems, vegetation and wildlife in a wise manner; to prevent them from degradation or extinction and ensure continuity and long term derivation of the highest economic and social benefits.
National Park: This is a scenic or historically important area of countryside, protected by the federal government. It is set aside for the conservation of wild nature for posterity and as a symbol of national pride.
Wildlife: This traditionally refers to non-domesticated animal species, but has come to include all plants, fungi and other organisms which grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by animals.
ACRONYMS AND MEANINGS
CRNP: cross river national park
WWF: World Wide Fund for Nature
WCS: Wildlife Conservation Society
DIN: Development in Nigeria
ENGO: 'Environmental NGO,' such as Greenpeace and WWF.