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Stakeholders Validate Mount Cameroon National Park Zoning Plan 

 By Maxcel Fokwen & Isidore Abah

Committee members of the Bomboko cluster and the Buea conservation zone of the Mount Cameroon National Park in the Southwest Region have validated a proposed zoning plan that would ensure the effective management of the Park’s activities.
The committee members endorsed the plan presented by conservation experts, during two separate conclaves that held in Mbonge on September 16 and Buea September 19 and were presided at by the Divisional Officers, DOs, for Mbonge and Buea Subdivisions, Simon Sombe and Wokam Kouam, respectively.
The meetings organised within the framework of the Programme for the Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, Southwest Region, PSMRPSMNR-SW, in partnership with the German International Cooperation, GIZ, brought together traditional rulers and other stakeholders in the biodiversity conservation chain.
After deliberations and amendments, the representatives of the villages that make up the Bomboko cluster and the Buea conservation zone gave their blessing to the plan that would reshape the management policies of the Park.
According to Mor-Achankap Bakia, one of the facilitators at the conclaves, the proposed plan allows for zoning which will guarantee the direction of Park activities based on conservation objectives, implementation of management expectations and the identification of Park areas suited for particular activities.
The plan points to the fact that the Mount Cameron National Park, which is divided into four zones; Buea, Muyuka, West Coast and Bomboko, will be split into four management zones which are; Core conservation zone, CoCZ, Limited Access Zone, LAZ, Fragile Ecological Zone, FEZ, and the Support  Zone, SP.
Going by the expert demarcation; human influence and the various activities carried out around the Park, remains limited at all levels.
Besides the zoning of the Park, the community representatives equally approved six new proposed management programmes for the Park. The adopted programmes cover finance and administration, park protection, community development and local participation, ecotourism development, research and monitoring, alongside a sustainable finance mechanism.
In another presentation, Simon Bisong, Park Conservator, said the challenges of managing the Park border on striking a balance between the increasing number of people living around it, the search for a sustainable funding for the management of the Park’s activities and the handling of human-wildlife conflicts.
Bisong disclosed that, in 2013, the Park registered some 1,400 tourists from 13 countries, helping Government to raise FCFA 5.5 million. He explained that, the completion of the management plan will provide a reference for monitoring Park activities and its impact on biodiversity and community development.
The First Deputy Mayor of Mbonge, Graham Opunde Mesodi, said the Council has aspirations for sustainable development that can only be fully achieved by working with other partners. Opunde announced that a number of communities in Mbonge now boast of community halls, benches and potable water, as bonuses accruing from the effective management of the forest.
According to the DO of Mbonge, Simon Sombe, since Mount Cameroon National Park has recorded huge success in the protection of biodiversity, communities must match words with actions to enjoy the social benefits of forest conservation.
On his part, the DO for Buea, Paul Wokam Kouam, said the new proposed zoning plan should not end on paper, but should effectively be implemented to ensure that locals around the Park should benefit from the new plan. He urged traditional rulers not to relent in their efforts of being the custodians of the park.
The new management plan for the Park that expires in 2019 will go through local, divisional, regional and national levels for validation, latest October 30, 2014.

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