- The Campo Ma'an National Park in southern coastal Cameroon is close to having a management plan that is to safeguard its biological diversity. The park, covering the hinterland of Cameroon's beach tourism resorts Kribi and Campo, is home to many endangered species - including lowland gorillas and forest elephants - but increased pressure from human settlements were endangering the park.
Following a national consultation among government officials, partners and stakeholders in Cameroon's capital Yaoundé, the management plan for Campo Ma'an National Park in the south of the country is in a final stage. This plan is to become the 'road map' for the upkeep of the biological diversity of the park and its surrounding areas.
The management plan was partly designed by international environmentalist groups as WWF. "We have the obligation vis-à-vis present and future generations to safeguard the huge biological diversity in the sub-region," commented yesterday Laurent Somé of WWF. "This must be done through the elaboration of management policies that favour sustainable use of natural resources," he added.
Amadi Ali, the Secretary General of Cameroon's Minister of Environment and Forestry, who attended the meeting, reiterated the government's willingness to cooperate with environmentalist groups for the sake of natural resource management.
According to WWF, Campo Ma'an National Park is considered important to conservation due to "its biologically diverse coastal forest." The park is home to a significant population of elephants, lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, hippos, giant pangolins, black colobuses, mandrills, and leopards. The avifauna is also rich and diverse.
The biologically rich park is also on of Cameroon's most accessible and visited wildlife areas. With the good access and the strong urban growth in Kribi - which has developed into a major oil shipping port - pressure on the Campo Ma'an Park has also increased. Four logging concessions and an agro-industrial zone outside the park have further attracted thousands of people from outside the area.
As the pressure on the area outside the park increased, resources here started dwindling and illegal activities have lately been transferred to the Campo-Ma'an National Park. This includes the building of permanent dwellings in the park, construction of roads at the park's borders by logging companies and a big influx of poachers, using these access roads.
Thus, environmental organisations for a long time have lobbied for a new management plan for the pressured and valuable park. Especially, they said, Cameroonian authorities needed to see land-use and sustainable forest and wildlife resource utilisation in a regional perspective, taking pressure off the park.
When finalised, WWF's Central Africa office says it "hopes the management plan will become a strategic document to help regulate the protection and management of these natural resources." The Cameroonian government and WWF had cooperated with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and several other organisations and development agencies to draft the Campo Ma'an Park's management plan.
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