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Management of Forest Resources for Ecotourism Development in Menge-Mesaka Tombel Sub Division

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In recent decades, community-based forest management has been a popular strategy in programs aimed at helping local populations conserve forests and improve their livelihoods. For sustainable forest management programs, there is now a lack of effective protective areas aggravated by the constant increase in population and the increasing demand for fuel wood and various other forest products.

The study seeks to, examine the composition of the forest in Menge-Mesaka,to evaluate the contributions of the different management strategies in the development of ecotourism Menge- Mesaka forest, to identify existing lapses or limitations of the current management strategies or practice in the development of ecotourism Menge-Mesaka forest , and to propose measures to enhance management system and ensure ecotourism development in Menge-Mesaka forest .

The study made used both primary and secondary data that was obtain through field survey, questionnaires and interview and was analysed using percentages and tables. Data obtain from the field proved that local population are not integrated into the day to day running of the forest and are part of decision marker, financial constrain to effectively manage the park, gender bias in management as well as ,poorly train eco tour guide.

It was on this bases some recommendations was made in other to ensure sustainable ecotourism development in Menge- Mesaka forest reserve by stating thatgovernment should invest more money into the Menge-Mesaka forest reserve in other to empower the forest reserve to function at full capacity and to achieve desired projects that will boast sustainable ecotourism development within the community.

1.1 Background to the study
In recent decades, community-based forest management has been a popular strategy in programs aimed at helping local populations conserve forests and improve their livelihoods (Bray et al, 2005).

Many governments in developing countries claim to be decentralizing natural resource to local actors (Larson, 2004). This current worldwide trend towards devolution of forestlands to local communities (White and Martin, 2002) has highlighted the potential significance of community forest enterprises.

Many development actors have thought of community involvement in the management of forest for timber production as a way to reduce poverty, promote economic development and provide incentive for forest preservation (Wunder, 2001).

Forest areas and nature protection in developing countries are often seen as recreational assets and there are generally few opportunities to earn income from them. Forest conservation is meaningful and long lasting, if the society sees the economic benefits of conserving forests.

Market-based approaches of forest utilization have become more popular among the alternative approaches in the recent past. In this backdrop, being a non-consumptive means of utilization of forest resources (Wunder, 1999), ecotourism, based on natural forests receives a prominent place among alternative market-based approaches.

Forest-based ecotourism is a non-land based model of sustainable forest management, which is built upon recreation services provided by the forests (Lindberg et al., 1997).

Forest plays a significant role in ecotourism around the world, particularly in developing nations (Richardson 2010) where the economic benefits that can be generated are significant to low-income families.

Some other benefits obtained from ecotourism are the protection of forest, wildlife conservation, preservation of cultural traditions, gender equity, and social cohesion (Stem et al. 2003). It also opens opportunities for small local business thus creating employment for local residents (Lee et al. 2010).

Sustainable forest management as a strategy to reduce poverty and conserve the forest can be an array of actions with which people rationally use the forest to perpetuate its availability to provide an array of services.

Among these services are enjoyment and recreation, which in several cases have capitalized on ecotourism projects demonstrating that well-organized rural poor communities know how to use resources sustainably, while obtaining economic, social, and ecological benefits (Wunder 2000).

Studies have shown that ecotourism can provide a competitive income return compared with timber production and forest clearing for agriculture (Stem et al. 2003).

Accordingly, ecotourism aims to extend positive impacts through a special focus on forest conservation through management practice applied, providing benefits to host communities and education to visitors.

Thus in sustainable terms, ecotourism goes beyond other forms of tourism. Ecotourism lies in the sustainable development framework, since it aims to achieve social and environmental goals in addition to economic goals.

Implementation of sustainable principles of is very crucial for the success of any ecotourism business Wight (1993).
In the developed nation of the world, Sri Lanka possesses an enormous diversity in its forest resources.

The forests are rich in species diversity with a high degree of endemism and genetic diversity. Thus, from the point of view of resource base, country carries a unique natural advantage for forest-based ecotourism.

Around 98 per cent of the natural forests of Sri Lanka are owned and managed by the state. The FD and the DWLC, which come under the Ministry of Environment (MENR), are the two state agencies responsible for managing natural forests in the country.

The total forest land areas held by the FD is 1,421,954 ha in the year 2007, which accounts to around 22 per cent of the total land area of the country. The total land area held by the DWLC is around 930,813 ha in the year 2008.

This area constitutes of 14 per cent of the total land area of the country. The forest management system of Sri Lanka presently is looking for avenues of participatory approaches of forest management. At present forests are managed through a command and control approach with limited community participation.

The FD implemented a community forestry pilot project from 2003 to 2008 with donor funds in five districts of Dry and Intermediate zones of the country, where forest degradation had been a severe issue.

Based on the lessons learned through the pilot project, it is expected to replicate community forestry in other suitable forest areas. It is an encouraging sign that forest-based ecotourism has been identified as one of the approaches in promoting conservation and benefiting communities in some pilot sites, such as in Ranpathwala in Ahatuwewa Divisional Secretariat Division of Kurunegala district.

Thus, prospects exist that ecotourism could be acknowledged as a tool for conservation and an integrated part in the forest management system of the country Ratnayake (2007).
In Africa, the forests of Ghana are important assets both to the nation and to a wide variety of individuals and communities, local and international.

The forests are potentially useful, even affecting forests thus also affect national development, sustainable livelihood, poverty alleviation (Kotey et al., 1998) and environmental stability. Wise use should not therefore be interpreted in terms of sustainable use alone but also the extent to which these diverse uses are integrated and managed for optimization of each use and corresponding flow of benefits to stakeholders.

The role of policy in this direction is to provide the mandate and framework within which forest managers could achieve multiple benefits through integrated natural forest management.

The spirit of reform had also led to a shift in forest management strategies from state-based forest management towards (1) Cooperative forest management, namely the existence of forest management cooperation between the government or forest company with communities living in the vicinity of the forest area, and (2) Community-based forest management, namely the granting of a forest management rights permit to community groups around the forest area to manage forest resources independently according to local wisdom to improve their welfare (Smith, E.K., Aninakwa, B. and Ortsin, G., 1995).
Cameroon is a country endowed with abundant natural resources and forest is one of the most important of these resources. The forests comprise mainly of dense evergreen rain forest, deciduous and gallery forest.

The dense evergreen forests are concentrated in the southern section and also along the coast. Mangroves are found along the Gulf of Guinea coast while light acacia forests are in the north.

The forests are a reservoir of biodiversity and have exceptionally rich and diverse flora and fauna (Burnham, 2000). It is estimated that Cameroon’s forests constitute between 8,000 and 12,000 species (Liviu, 2005). There are about 9,000 species of plants in which at least 156 are endemic. The country contains 409 species of mammals and 925 species of birds (see section 3.8.1).

Following increasing degradation of the forests and loss of biodiversity, the government of Cameroon embarked on sustainable oriented forest conservation and management policy. Before 1994, the forest policy of Cameroon laid emphasis on the exploitation of forest heritage resources in order to generate wealth for development.

The government recognised the importance to develop national programmes for conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity especially after the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. In 1993, a forest policy document, the National Forestry Action Programme was adopted.

This was within the framework of the TFAP. It sets the objectives of the forestry and wildlife sector which among others include: the protection of Cameroon’s forest heritage and participation in safeguarding the global environment, preservation of biodiversity in a sustainable manner, improvement of participation of the local populations in forest conservation and management in order to enable forestry to contribute to raising their living standard (Government of Cameroon, 1993).

1.2 Statement of the Problem

For sustainable forest management programs, there is now a lack of effective protective areas. Menge-Mesaka, a community forest sustains rural livelihood. Unfortunately some of the resources are over exploited by the inhabitants to sustain themselves.

These notably involves some forest species and animals through deforestation and poaching respectively. Also there is a poorly developed eco-tourism management system in the region. Eco-tourism does not significantly bring revenue to the inhabitants even though it wide biodiversity exists in the region.

Presently, hunting of fauna and flora, habitant loss, climate change, deforestation and lack of strong law enforcement are threatening the forest of Menge-Mesaka. The result of these loss of biodiversity will later cause severe land degradation problems.

In spite of the conservation measures that have already been taken, many animals and plant species, including the chimpanzee and gorilla, remain severely threatened even in protected areas.
Furthermore, open confrontation with forest management or authorities by local communities that own the land on which the forest reserve was created as there, are not only denied access to forest, but also not involved in the day-to-today operations of the area which are their major sources of livelihood has acted as a speed break in slowing the development of ecotourism in Tombel.
Furthermore, unsustainable harvesting of forest resource is amongst challenges facing ecotourism development in the Menge forest. This is notably the unsustainable harvesting of many forest resources such as medicinal, edible, fodder or aromatic plants (e.g. cork, carob). This harvesting is done almost entirely by local people. Over-harvesting precludes regrowth, especially harvesting of nuts and berries. In addition, the act of over harvesting leads to damage to the surrounding habitat, and further facilitates the entry of other threats.
Again small logging in the Menge-Mesaka Tombel , mostly by local people for construction, is unmanaged and in some parts is unsustainable. This leads to forest loss, to a general weakening of the ecosystem, and the progressive conversion of forest land to wasteland.
Also climate change is known to be a threat to biodiversity and to forest ecosystems, although very little factual evidence and data is available for the Menge-Mesaka forest ecosystems. It is projected that climate change will lead to: more intense hot periods, more intense and extensive dry periods, increased averages temperatures, and fewer cool days/nights. Each of these can affect the oaks and the pine forests, their productivity, the health of the ecosystems, and many of the other species in the ecosystem. Further, climate change is understood to be a cross-cutting threat as it mostly exacerbates or facilitates other threats – such as re, disease, alien invasion and fragmentation.
1.3 Research Question
In order to answer this primary question, the following research questions are incorporated in this study, they include;
1) What is the composition of the forest in Menge-Mesaka in terms of biodiversity?
2) What are the contributions of the different management strategies in the development of ecotourism Menge-Mesaka forest?
3) What are some of the existing lapses affecting management practices in the development in Menge-Mesaka forest?
4) What possible measures could be adopted to enhance management system and ensure ecotourism development in Menge-Mesaka forest?
1.4.1 General Objective
The study seeks to evaluate management of forest resource for ecotourism development in Menge-Mesaka , Tombel subdivision
1.4.2 Specific Objectives
In other to achieve the objective of the study the following specific objectives will serve as guideline.
 To examine the composition of the forest in Menge-Mesaka
 To evaluate the contributions of the different management strategies in the development of ecotourism Menge-Mesaka forest
 To identify existing lapses or limitations of the current management strategies or practice in the development of ecotourism Menge-Mesaka forest
 To propose measures to enhance management system and ensure ecotourism development in Menge-Mesaka forest
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The study will be carryout with the hypotheses that
1) The management system currently used in the conservation of Menge-Mesaka forest is not participatory in nature due to gender bias
2) The use of poorly train eco guide negatively affect the management of Menge-Mesaka community forest.

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