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Fostering Rural Livelihood Security and Wildlife Conservation: experience from Gilli Gilli forest reserve, Nigeria


African grey parrot

African grey parrot (Photo "Posing" by Peter Nijenhuis is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

High poverty levels, disparate national policies and laws, and a lack of rights led to increased incidents of poaching in the Gilli Gilli forest reserve. Many species of fauna and flora have been affected, and there was high mistrust between local communities and enforcement staff.

The BAP project was initiated to address these issues and was the first multi-ethnic and multi-community based project to enhance livelihoods and conserve forest biodiversity in Nigeria.

The project had three key objectives:

1. To improve the wellbeing of forest dependent rural poor

2. To protect and conserve fragile ecosystems and associated life forms

3. To promote alternative livelihood activities


The Gilli Gilli forest reserve is in southern Nigeria and contains a wide variety of fauna, including the African grey parrot, Nile crocodile and the brush tailed porcupine, as well as many species of flora. 

The poaching and wildlife trade problem

Species affected African Grey Parrot Psittacus erithacus , Nile Crocodile Crocodylus niloticus , Timber Species

Overview of the problem

Disparate policies and laws from the state to local level have reduced tenure and access rights for the multi-ethnic communities who live around the reserve. This, and high poverty levels, meant the forest resources were frequently targeted by poachers. Usually, young men were engaged in logging activities, whereas women tended to trade in non-timber forest products and live animals. This led to the erosion of biodiversity and degradation of the ecosystem.

The anti-IWT initiative

The key issues the project sought to address were:

  • Regulating the harvest of timber and non-timber forest products
  • Reducing poaching and hunting of wildlife
  • Preventing loss of endemics
  • Restricting harvest of forest resources in fragile ecosystems

The project focussed on a community-based forest management model, using forest management committees and a small loans scheme to create a sense of conservation stewardship and provide more secure livelihoods.

The strategy

Increasing livelihoods that are not related to wildlife

(Non-wildlife-based) enterprise development/support
Further detail

Small loan scheme.

Build/and or support sense of community ownership or stewardship

Further detail

Community-based forest management.

What works and why

A variety of small projects were successfully established through small loans in some communities.

What doesn’t work and why

Barriers to success included:

Discordant policies and laws at national and state level, and the BAP project

Weak enforcement

Poor knowledge of rainforest ecology

Low status of biodiversity

Organisers, donors and partners

For further information contact (