The Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF), in partnership with the Canadian High Commission’s Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, has embarked on activities to tackle climate change in the grassroot communities of River Kampe National Park, Kwara State.
The project is primarily aimed at building resilience to the impact of climate change for three vulnerable communities through nature-based solutions. It is also intended to empower these support zone communities especially women on alternative energy source through the production of Biochar/Briquette from agriculture waste.
In addition, the partners are using this project to develop a nature-based Recovery Action Plan for River Kampe National Park towards restoring its over 65,000 hectares of forest landscape through a community-led approach.
NCF has trained 50 women and youth from the various communities on Biochar production from rice waste as part of the project activities. The training covered production, packaging, use and marketing of briquette. The key training areas centred on energy security by developing alternative and sustainable energy source for the communities to dissuade them from cutting down trees for firewood; climate change mitigation from reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases; and economic development with the improvement of livelihoods of over 10,000 inhabitants of these rural areas especially women and youth through fruits and biochar enterprise.
Participants were also organised into community biochar women cooperative groups to have access to seed funding in order to set up the biochar enterprise in the beneficiary communities of Agboro, Latayi, and Koro in Pategi Local Government Area of Kwara State.
In January, NCF kicked-off the nature-based recovery and climate resilience project around River Kampe Forest Reserve with a community need and attitude assessment as well as the establishment of Site Support Groups in the three communities. This resulted into understanding the need of the community around household energy, unemployment, knowledge gap in biodiversity monitoring which informed the design and implementation of the project.
NCF said it has established three native/economic tree nurseries across the target communities with the planting of locust beans and cashew tree seeds. Its goal of raising 15,000 native economic seeds, the Foundation added, has been achieved while the communities will lead the planting of these seedlings by the onset of the raining season in April across their agrological landscapes.
In the long term, NCF said it would increase the number of seedlings raised to about one million over the next two years. These fruit trees would provide long term healthy nutrition, economic and environmental support for these communities to address biodiversity loss and climate change.
On the Key Biodiversity Area training conducted, NCF organised a capacity building workshop on wildlife monitoring, data collection, recording, and reporting for 30 forest officers and youths selected from these communities who will become Site Support Groups. NCF hopes that the Site Support Group, in addition to job employment, would help the Kwara State Ministry of Environment close the biodiversity data gap already identified in River Kampe and be able to plan for its long-term conservation action.
Despite the Federal Government’s intervention to upgrade River Kampe Forest Reserve to a National Park, unsustainable practices within the three Support Zone Communities remains. The Forest Reserve, which is the source of safe drinking water for over one million people in the area, supports irrigation for crop and livestock farming, but lacks sustainable management practice. Threats of unlawful timber exploitation in buffer zones of the Forest Reserve, wildlife poaching, and production of charcoal by merchants persist. These communities do not benefit much from these forest resources with high levels of unemployment among women and youth and continuous exposure to the impacts of drought and desertification on food security.
These challenges and others necessitated NCF and its partner to develop a strategic projects to directly impact the lives of the host communities’ members.
In collaboration with the Kwara State Ministry of Environment, NCF is organising a Stakeholders Workshop to commemorate the International Day of Forest on 23rd March 2022 in Ilorin, the state capital.