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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 Community Forest:
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