The majority of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria depend directly on natural resources for their livelihoods. Also, the national economy depends on services provided by natural resources – water supply, agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forests, and non-renewable energy. However, unsustainable land-use practices, over-exploitation of natural resources, and ineffectively managed protected areas and their support zones all pose serious threats to the maintenance of ecosystems and habitats. People living in poverty are usually forced to consume their natural resource base with little or no investment in maintaining the natural capital stock.
The present project builds on successful models, lessons and tools developed through the implementation of previous Green Economy and Biosphere Reserves (GEBR) project activities in Omo Biosphere Reserve. The concepts will be applied to establish GEBR alternative livelihoods projects in Omo Biosphere Reserve and in Shere Hills forest.
The main goal of the project is to reduce poverty and contribute to sustainable development in Omo Biosphere Reserve and in Shere Hills Forest in Nigeria, through the establishment of green economy activities and with a focus on youth and women entrepreneurship.
This will be achieved through two specific objectives:
- To diversify the local economy through improved and alternative biodiversity-related livelihoods.
- To build the capacity of communities in a holistic manner to ensure the sustainability of the biodiversity businesses, to reduce the anthropogenic pressure on the forest, and to conserve the resource-base of their business.
Biodiversity business or green economy activities are commercial enterprises that generate profits through production processes, which conserve biodiversity, use biological resources in a sustainable manner, share the benefits arising out of it equitably, and seek to expand the number of community partners and beneficiaries.
The concept of biodiversity businesses is not a new one and initiatives range from activities under agriculture, forestry, exploitation of non-timber forest products and fisheries. It also includes modern initiatives such as carbon sequestration in biomass, payments for watershed protection, bioprospecting, biodiversity offsets – both mandatory and voluntary schemes, biodiversity management services, ecotourism and recreational hunting and sport-fishing. A demonstrative and non-exhaustive list of infrequent, yet in demand, biodiversity businesses which will be considered jointly with community partners seeking to enhance their biodiversity livelihoods includes:
(i) Fish farming, (ii) Bee keeping, (iii) Mushroom production, (iv) Snail production, etc.