Participatory forest management in Taraba State, Nigeria

The Nigerian Conservation Foundation, with support from the RSPB is working in the spectacular mountain ranges of Taraba in Eastern Nigeria.

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The project aims to protect some of the country's most biologically diverse natural forests and the forest dependant populations of the threatened Bannerman’s weaver, Crossley’s ground thrush and the rare Nigerian chimpanzee.
Taraba State in the east of Nigeria is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Nigeria. It is home to the 6,700 square kilometre Gashaka Gumti National Park, the largest park in the country. It is also home to the forests of the Mambilla Mountains and the Donga River valley, two sites that are Important Bird Areas. The forests of Taraba State are under great threat. Rural communities in the state are some of Nigeria’s poorest. This fact, combined with poor management of natural forests by the state and the threat of forest clearance for agriculture, means that new approaches are needed to protect the forests. The forests and communities are in isolated areas, far from the main cities and a lower priority for the government. A key requirement is therefore to develop agreements with the communities to allow them to manage the forests and benefit from sustainable use.
The project aims to protect the threatened forests of Taraba State in Nigeria by increasing the role of forest edge communities in the day-to-day management of these forests.


  • Developing Participatory Forest Management Plans for five forests
  • Review and updating laws and regulations that govern forest in Taraba so that the role of communities is recognised
  • Establish a network of forest managing communities in the State that will meet regularly and lobby government for an increased role in forest management
  • Support alternative income generation activities for communities in return for reducing their dependence on forest products

Key Dates

  • The project began in 2005 as a follow-up to previous and pioneering participatory management project
  • The project works in five forest sites and has established a presence in communities neighbouring those forests
  • Participatory Forest Management committees have been organised in each of these communities
  • The project has been supporting alternative income generation activities in many of the communities through beekeeping training and support, poultry farming, basket and soap making and others
  • Draft management plans have been developed for all forests, in consultation with each community
  • Incomes are increasing in households which have been supported by the project and there are requests from other communities to expand the project to their forests

Planned Work

The project ends in mid 2010 and the project team, from the Nigerian Conservation Foundation and the Taraba State Government are working hard in the communities to ensure that the management plans are completed in time. The team is also striving to ensure that illegal encroachment and cattle grazing is kept out of the forests and that the state government commits to support community management of forests in the State. This latter issue will involve the review of laws and the support of the Community Forest Network established by the project.
Ultimately the ideal scenario will be that the State Government sees that local communities have a key role to plan in managing that natural forests of Taraba State and that the forests can play a role in livelihood development of the local communities.

Species affected (not UK birds)

Cameroon olive-pigeon (Columba sjostedti)
Bar-tailed trogon (Apaloderma vittatum)
Western green-tinkerbird (Pogoniulus coryphaeus)
Yellow-breasted boubou (Laniarius atroflavus)
White-bellied crested-flycatcher (Elminia albiventris)
Brown-backed cisticola (Cisticola discolour)
Black-collared apalis (Apalis pulchra)
Western mountain greenbul (Andropadus tephrolaemus)
Cameroon olive greenbul (Phyllastrephus poensis)
Black-capped woodland-warbler (Phylloscopus herberti)
African hill babbler (Pseudoalcippe abyssinica)
Crossley's ground-thrush (Zoothera crossleyi)
Cameroon sunbird (Nectarinia oritis)
Northern double-collared sunbird (Nectarinia preussi)
Bannerman's weaver (Ploceus bannermani)
Baglafecht weaver (Ploceus baglafecht)
Brown-capped weaver (Ploceus insignis)
Fernando Po oliveback (Nesocharis shelleyi)
Oriole finch (Linurgus olivaceus)


  • Nigerian Conservation Foundation: NCF is Nigeria's premier non-governmental organisation dedicated to the promotion of nature conservation. Formed in 1980 and registered in 1982 as a Charitable Trust, its ultimate goal is to stop and eventually reverse the accelerating degradation of Nigeria's natural environment and to help build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature. 
  • Taraba State Government: The government is represented by the Forest Department. The Department is responsible for the manage of all of the natural and plantation forests in the state.


The Project is a five-year project funded by the Civil Society Challenge Fund of the Department for International Development and the DEFRA Darwin Initiative. Support is also promised from the Taraba State Government.


Watch the rural development officer for Participatory Forest Management in Taraba State, Nigeria, discuss the project.

The rural development officer for Participatory Forest Management in Taraba State, Nigeria, discusses the project.

Participatory forest management video screenshot


Coast on a stormy day

Alex Hipkiss

Senior International Funding Officer, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: International Country: Nigeria Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Site protection Project types: Species protection