Stakeholder involvement and participation are essential in achieving sustainable integration and sound environmental management of protected areas in Nigeria. Involvement and participation of local communities in conservation and management of Osse River Park were assessed through administration of structured questionnaires while relevant State Government Ministries in Environmental and Nature Resources Management and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) were interviewed to complement the study. Although the local communities were observed to be involved at the inception of the Park, their participation in park management is presently low (25%). Accordingly, 70% of the respondent claimed that the government and NGOs invested more in environmental education, park protection and surveillance than in meeting socio-economic needs of the people. Small proportion of the respondents identified distribution of plant seedlings (20%) and intensification of conservation education (10%) as an urgent need. This result suggests the need to increase financing from the present 5 to 25% NGO's input in fund raising and the government's commitment in finance. The study identified improving stakeholders' relations, capacity building, and integrating community-based natural resource management as important. It was recommended that the ministries and NGOs engaged in environmental and biodiversity conservation which direct more efforts toward the development of sustainable practices that facilitate stakeholders’ participation in the integration process.
Key words: Capacity building, conservation education, stakeholder’s involvement and participation, sustainable development.
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