Located on the edge of the Cross River National Park buffer zone, the villages of the Ekuri Initiative jointly possess 33,600 hectares of tropical forest. This area, located on Ekuri communal lands, constitutes one of the largest communally controlled forests remaining in Nigeria. Ekuri is engaged in community forestry to harvest timber, vegetables, rattans, and other products in a sustainable manner. Many of the Ekuri’s activities involve the distribution of funds and widespread involvement of villagers in decision-making
processes. The community meets regularly to discuss how funds raised through sales of timber and non-timber forest products will be used. Funds are mainly invested into community infrastructure projects but are also distributed to families to pay for medical bills, skills development, and school fees.
Women are closely involved in governance and skills development. The Kirsti Women’s Movement is a Women’s Human Rights and Empowerment Organization that has received technical and financial supports from Ekuri, thereby promoting gender equality, women empowerment and poverty reduction. To obtain a legal property entitlement and to implement a preliminary land use strategy, Ekuri conducted a perimeter survey of the community forest to help define its boundary. All trees in the forest and on farmlands, except those planted by individual farmers, are community-owned. Ekuri Initiative worked in partnership with the Cross River National Park, Cross River State Forestry Commission, Iroko Foundation, Ford Foundation, IUCN, Equator Initiative and other NGOs.