Using Cement to Strengthen Conservation

25 June 2010 | Article

 The Wildlife Conservation Society in Nigeria and UniCem, one of the country’s leading cement manufacturers, are working together to protect Cross River National Park, a renowned biodiversity hotspot and Nigeria’s most important protected area.

As part of its environmental policy, UniCem has committed to a biodiversity offset programme that mitigates the impact of its operations. Although this was initially intended to focus on offsetting the impact of its operations on the biodiversity within its concession area, biological surveys carried out by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in 2007 found the habitat to be largely degraded and mostly converted to oil palm. WCS therefore proposed that the biodiversity offset programme focus instead on the adjacent Cross River National Park (CRNP), recognising the global importance of this park as a biodiversity hotspot. The national park contains the largest area of relatively undisturbed tropical moist forest in Nigeria, along with a large number of rare and endangered species including the Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, leopard, elephant and giant pangolin.

A five-year action plan was prepared by WCS to help guide UniCem’s biodiversity offset programme and ensure that conservation efforts were targeted at those areas most in need of support. The action plan is designed to provide support to strengthen levels of park protection; support conservation planning for more effective long-term park management; basic research and monitoring to improve our understanding of park ecosystems; support for environmental education to improve levels of conservation awareness and boost levels of local support; and training of park staff to strengthen levels of local capacity.

The first year of the action plan is now underway with the three project partners (UniCem, WCS & the National Park Service) working together to implement it. Activities for this first year will focus on support for trans-boundary patrols with rangers from Korup National Park (Cameroon), a stakeholder workshop to review the park’s management plan, and improved monitoring by park rangers through the introduction of a pilot Cybertracker-based monitoring system.

The UniCem’s biodiversity offset programme provides welcome support to the Cross River National Park, which faces an uncertain future due to underfunding and a large number of growing threats such as hunting logging and encroachment

For more information on WCS’s work in Nigeria,
Visit: http://www.wcs.org/where-we-work/Africa/Nigeria.aspx
Contact: Andrew Dunn at adunn@wcs.org