Washington, April 5, 2012 – Today the World Bank Board of Executive Directors approved a US$3.5 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund to the Republic of Cameroon to support investments in conservation and sustainable management of the Ngoyla-Mintom forest and to ensure the 10,200 people living in the project areas are given equal access to income-generating activities.
The project will strengthen the capacity of the government and civil society for participatory forest planning and management operations in the project area. It will also help design and pilot a Livelihood Support Mechanism which will invest in micro-projects that increase economic alternatives for local communities. “Conservation of the important biological and social values of the Ngoyla Mintom forest has been the focus of the international community’s attention for two decades, but has so far received little financial support. With these GEF funds, the Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife will be better able to manage the Ngoyla Mintom forest for the benefit of the local community”, said James Acworth, World Bank Senior Forestry Specialist.
The Ngoyla Mintom forest, a block of almost 1 million hectares of largely unexploited forest in South Cameroon, is essential for the maintenance of biological connectivity between protected areas in Gabon, Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. To date there has been limited investment in protecting or managing the forest and unregulated hunting is depleting wildlife populations.
“In my capacity as GEF Operational Focal Point of Cameroon, I would like to offer Cameroon’s full support to the Ngoyla Mintom project. Indeed, this is a project that fits well with national priorities of Cameroon. It was discussed at the meeting of the National Committee of the GEF in 2006 in the presence of all national stakeholders including the private sector and civil society who all have strongly expressed their wish to see this actually happen in Cameroon” said Justin Nantchou, Cameroons’ Operational Focal Point in the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development.
The Conservation and Sustainable Management within the Ngoyla-Mintom Forest Project aims to improve the conservation and management of a Core Area of not less than 160,000 hectares for conservation and low impact community use, and improve access to income-generating activities for local communities in the project area.
This project is in line with the Government of Cameroon’s Vision 2035 which recognizes that land use planning and management is essential to secure integrated and sustainable development.
“The Global Environment Facility is working diligently to help countries in the sub-Sahara region protect and sustain critical forest resources,” said Gustavo Fonseca, Head of Natural Resources for the GEF. “The key first step is ensuring that the governments we are working with have the capacity to effectively invest funds toward the preservation of important forest regions such as the Ngoyla Minton Forest. We are ready to work with Cameroon to ensure that these funds benefit the forest and the communities whose livelihood it supports.”
Established in 1991, the GEF is today the largest public funder of projects to improve the global environment. It provides grants to developing countries and countries in transition for projects related to biodiversity, climate change, international waters, land degradation, the ozone layer, and persistent organic pollutants.