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ERuDeF Launches Biodiversity Community Trust 

By Azore Opio

The Environment and Rural Development Foundation, ERuDeF, and its partners Monday, November 1, at the Cameroon Cultural Centre, Buea, Southwest Region, launched the Biodiversity Community Trust, BCT. This is the second component of ERuDeF’s process of developing a community foundation in Cameroon through a non-profit micro-banking institution.

ERuDeF President/CEO, Nkembi on a crop farm

In July 2006, ERuDeF launched the first component of creating a community foundation known as the Forest Protection Fund with membership limited to farmers and peasants whose lives are affected, to a larger extent, by its biodiversity conservation projects in Cameroon. Since then, over 200 groups have enrolled involving 5 000 individuals. The Forest Protection Fund (FoProF) is a non-profit grant making community foundation which seeks to reconcile biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction.

FoProF has three core objectives: to provide financial support to village forest management committees to enable them conduct village-based conservation activities – meetings, education, surveillance, etc., to provide revolving start-up grants to impoverished groups to support locally initiated livelihood projects that are ecologically sustainable and to provide booster economic loans to community groups to help scale up their local economic development.

While objectives one and two are supported by direct revolving grants, the third objective will be supported by larger loans for the Biodiversity Community Trust. The Biodiversity Community Trust is much more globalising as it will extend its membership to include the general public with interest in saving the last ecosystems and biodiversity in the country.

The Biodiversity Trust would be accepting shares from both groups and individuals whose desire will be to grow a new philanthropic institution. The BCT seeks to improve the quality of life of local people in forest adjacent communities, support their economic development and ensure the sustainable management of biodiversity in the country.

It will further support the development of micro-banking and community financial resource mobilisation as well as organised and financially strong community groups and individuals with technical business plans that are no longer qualified to receive start-up revolving micro-grants from the Forest Protection Fund.

BCT will also enhance the growth and expansion of the Forest Protection Fund as a grant making institution. In order to cover the entire program area for ERuDeF, BCT will be community owned and managed. Within this perspective, each community/clan will operate its own branch.

The Board of Trustees of BCT will be composed of representatives of the management of each branch of BCT in Cameroon and independent trustees nominated by ERuDeF and its partners.
The key beneficiaries of the BCT products will not only include the general public but most importantly the local people who will constitute the majority of the shareholders.

The starting officers of the Biodiversity Community Trust are Interim Chairperson and Branch Chairperson for Buea, James Takwa, Buea Branch Coordinator, Alexane Nkafu, Menji Branch Coordinator, Lawson Ashu-leke, and Chief Financial Officer, Mrs. Ursula Nkeng.

ERuDeF is a non-profit organisation dedicated to wildlife conservation and protection of fragile environments in Cameroon through research, training, education and community engagement. The FoProF is supported by Fuana and Flora International, Arcus Foundation, Whitley Fund for Nature and the French Fund for Global Environment.

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