Challenges of Buffer Zone Management in Cross River National Park, South Eastern Nigeria
Buffer zone, Protected Areas, Cross River National Park, Land use practices, Non-Timber Forest Products
Ecological buffer zones are very crucial in minimizing the impact of land use practices close to protected areas, though there is no consensus surrounding their objectives, location, area and the level of their permitted use. This study therefore assessed the challenges of buffer zone management in some (adjacent) support zone communities in Oban Division of Cross River National Park, Nigeria. Data were obtained through questionnaire interviews and reconnaissance survey and subjected to descriptive and inferential statistical analysis. Results showed that a high percentage (68.68%) of the respondents in the division were not aware of the existence of the buffer zone and the policies governing it. 74.42% believed that the Park has left them poorer. Only 11.21% accepted that they have enjoyed tremendous benefits as a result of the establishment of Park and its buffer zone. A chi-square analysis showed that the people were not aware of the existence, creation and policy governing buffer zone management and were therefore not in favour of its operations. These developments might be adduced to the low level of awareness of Park laws and buffer zone management policies by these communities. It is therefore recommended that public enlightenment campaigns should be stepped up to educate the populace on the need to abide by the laws and policies governing the Park and its buffer zone. Social amenities including classroom blocks, health centers, roads, water and electricity should be provided by the management of the park including training in a number of livelihood options like beekeeping and non timber forest product farming. This is expected to reduce the pressure by the local communities on the resources of the park and its buffer zone.
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