The Cross River National Park was first proposed in 1965 but was not established until 1991 with the help of World Wide Fund for Nature-UK (funded by the Department
of International Development of the United Kingdom).
The Park has a total land area of 4000 square kilometres with Oban Hills comprising 2, 800 square kilometres consisting of primary moist tropical rainforest. There are two separate Divisions of the Cross River National Park, Okwango (established in 1991 and Oban (established in 1988). There are eight National Parks in Nigeria.
Oban is an important watershed for the area between the Cross River and the Sea, with hill rising above 500 m and one peak reaching approximately 1,000m. This division is drained by the Calabar, Kwa and Korup Rivers.
The Cross River National Park is the most important tropical rainforest in Nigeria and tentatively a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UNESCO Man and the biosphere Trans boundary Reserve.
It is a biodiversity Hotspot containing Cross River Gorilla Chimpanzees, elephants etc.
The Proposed Super Highway initiated by Governor Ben Ayade would surely cut through the Oban Division of the Cross River National Park.
Impact of the Road Project on the Cross River National Park
Clearing forest and farm lands without prior notice would affect communities in Oban Division of the Park adversely.
The clearing of 100 meter wide road will surely result in tremendous loss of biodiversity but also increase access to the National Park for timber extraction, non-timber forest resources extraction, increased settlements and crop cultivation within the national park.
Loss of watershed for Calabar and surrounding communities.
Loss of forest will lead to loss of livelihoods for communities around the area.
The old road from Calabar to Ikom will degrade and communities along that road will suffer.
Loss of tourism opportunities.
Climate change-due to loss of forest.
Donor interest and support will be lost.
[Image: The author]
I therefore call on Governor Ayade to immediately cancel this project and open discussion with the Federal Government the possibility of upgrading the existing Calabar-Ikom-Ogoja-Obudu Highway.
I thank President Muhammadu Buhari for cancelling his visit to Cross River State on the 21st September, 2015 for the ground breaking ceremony for the proposed Super Highway as a result of the representation made to him by the Federal Ministry of Environment on the possible devastating impact the Highway will cause the Cross River National Park.
Governor Ayade should make it as a priority to support ongoing conservation activities concerning the Cross River National Park.
Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla