The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently announced the winners of the 12th Equator Prize, which rewards local indigenous communities and civil society organizations working to protect the environment worldwide.
Tropical Forest and Rural Development (TF-RD), a long-time partner of the PPI, and the communities living on the periphery of the Dja Biosphere Reserve (DBR) in Cameroon are honored to be selected as this year’s winners.
Operating around the DBR for more than 10 years now, TF-RD accompanies the inhabitants of the periphery of this Protected Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in territorial development approaches based on the support of economic value chains compatible with biodiversity conservation.
The approach developed by the organization is based on the establishment of agroforestry value chains based on the valorization of cocoa, but also of non-timber forest products (NTFP) present in this ecosystem, such as moabi, Mbalaka or wild mango. The objective of the approach is to create value locally, notably through the production of high quality cosmetic and food oils and butters “made in Cameroon“. To support this process, a social enterprise has been developed (TROPICAL FOREST FOOD AND COSMETICS) and a processing platform for the various NTFPs has been set up in Yaoundé.
Since the beginning of its action, TF-RD has supported the reforestation of more than 70,000 local trees, the rehabilitation of 80 ha of old cocoa plantations and the establishment of more than 181 ha of agroforests on old fallow land, according to criteria that respect the environment and allow for the gradual move towards RAINFOREST ALLIANCE certification. 125 cocoa producers are currently united in a producers‘ cooperative and the sale of cocoa by the actors supported by TF-RD has brought in more than 25,000,000 CFA francs for 95 people in 2020.
he sale of harvested NTFPs that have undergone initial local processing has brought in 13,261,000 CFA francs for nearly 250 women, organized into 25 groups of women producers.
The approach developed by the organization is innovative in its ability to think holistically within the territory, with actions also being carried out in environmental education, research and coaching of young professionals, or ecological monitoring and community surveillance.
The approach developed by TF-RD is intended to be a pilot approach, aimed at demonstrating, from concrete field action regularly supported by scientific research activities, that placing the knowledge and practices of indigenous and local communities living within territories with high nature conservation stakes constitutes a relevant and effective approach contributing both to local development and to effective biodiversity conservation.
In light of this work, the winning CSO will receive $10,000 in the coming weeks and the opportunity to participate in a series of virtual events associated with the UN General Assembly, the Nature for Life Hub and the UN Food Systems Summit. She will also join a network of 255 communities from over 80 countries that have received the Equator Prize since its inception in 2002, helping to raise awareness of the prize.
After CAMGEW and CREDI in 2019, this is the third PPI partner organization to receive this award. TF-RD will be present at the IUCN World Congress next September to highlight its approach and results.
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Contact TF-RD: firstname.lastname@example.org