The villagers have traditionally hunted animals
for food. This ‘bushmeat’ is an important part of their
diet and also brings in money when sold in the towns and cities.
They also collect and use at least 100 different non-timber forest
products (NTFPs). These include food and medicinal plants, but also
the raw materials for making cooking utensils, furniture, tools
and buildings. Some of these products are also sold to the townspeople.
The villagers practice ‘shifting cultivation’. This
means they clear a small area of forest, grow crops for a few years
then move on to another area when the weeds begin to take over.
The plot is left to lie fallow and they return to it years later
when the weeds have been killed by the new tree shade.
The local people, who were already poor, were forbidden
to carry out these activities in the new National Park, so their
situation got worse. There was a lot of pressure on the remaining
forest. The Park, the local forestry authorities and some charities,
with some funding from the British Government, are helping them
to find ways of earning money and improving their standard of living
without destroying their own forest or that of the Park.
the Ekuri forest:
- is in the Support Zone
- is jointly controlled by the two villages
within it, Old Ekuri and New Ekuri, each with a population
of about 2,000
- is 95% covered in primary or good secondary
forest, probably the largest communally controlled forest
- had, until recently, only one road
and that was a rough track bulldozed through to Old Ekuri.
Because of the rough terrain and large streams, the track
could only be used for half a year during the dry season.