Birdlife International report that there’s a new forest conservation initiative to save one of West Africa’s few remaining tropical forests.
The area covers over 350,000 hectares and it’s called the Gola Forest. It goes across the Liberia and Sierra Leone borders, and it’s the largest remaining block of Upper Guinean Forest.
The area is an important for one for biodiversity – it boasts:
49 mammal species
327 bird species
43 amphibians species
over 200 species of tree
over 60 species there threatened call this home including - it’s got the world’s second biggest population of Western chimpanzees.
it’s an overall carbon sink and helps to reduce the impacts of climate change.
But the area has suffered deforestation and degradation
Logging, agriculture, mining and conflict have caused the loss of vital biodiversity. It’s reduced the ability of the area to cope with climate change – and impacted on local people who depend on the forests for their livelihood.
There’s protection now in place
The governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone have signed agreements in 2011 and 2020 to manage the forest and protect the biodiversity there.
And back in August 2020, the EC funded Programme to Support the Conservation of Forest Ecosystems in West Africa was implemented to conserve the Gola Forest.
The project should help to manage conflict between communities sharing the same forest resources. It will support the management of five protected areas. Local people will be trained and empowered to undertake the management of the forest – the programme will be training community eco-guards so that there are joint patrols by the two countries. A bio-monitoring programme will also be put in place.
As eco-guards, local communities will be involved in protecting the forests which will in turn give them an income. Many were hunters, miners, loggers and farmers before.
Two community based ecotourism ventures will be supported by the project, and a sustainable logging model in Liberia will be piloted. Over 50,000 people in 160 communities will benefit from the programme.
You see, bulldozers appeared without warning and started to clear one of Nigeria’s last remaining forests.
The Ekuri people rose up quickly – they have a lot of experience defending their forest against the exploitation of others.
The Ekuri people and Rainforest Rescue have developed a powerful coalition over the years.
They want to get the government of Cross River State to abandon its plans for a superhighway to nowhere.
If it were to be created, that superhighway would impact national parks, forest reserves – and 185 villages along its 270 kilometre route.Sixty Eco-Guards are being trained to protect the forest by Martins Ego and activities of the NGOs Ekuri Initiative and DevCon.
One of the species of wildlife who will be particularly affected if this highway goes ahead is the endangered Cross River Gorillas because the region is home to the Afi Wildlife Sanctuary.
Please help the Ekuri people defend their forest home and protect it for people and wildlife – especially the gorillas! Find out more and donate here
There’s some good news from the conservation world that I wanted to share with you today so here it is:The World Land Trust have had a very successful autumn.
I’m thrilled to say that they hit the required fundraising target of £100,000 in just a few weeks to protect vital gorilla habitat in Africa. The success of #FutureforGorillas means that there’s a safer future for Camaroon’s great ape population. The fundraiser kicked off on 4 September and hit its target, thanks to the kindness and generosity of donors in early November.
The World Land Trust’s partner, the Environmental and Rural Development Foundation (ERuDeF), now has the resources to start creating a forest corridor in eastern Cameroon.
The area is home to Western Lowland gorillas, chimpanzee, elephants, pangolins, hippos, leopards and other species as well. The creation and protection of forests will mean that species can keep their populations strong in number and have a future. Here’s the video about it:
Their Big Match Fortnight Appeal hit its target of £500,000 in a fortnight!
Donors from around the world joined together and made a difference to the incredible appeal to help the World Land Trust and its partner in Ecuador save the last 2% of the Chocó Forest.
The Appeal is still open so you can still donate (I’m writing this on 14 November 2020) which means that even more of the forest can be saved and protected for wildlife.Decades of logging have destroyed 98% of the Chocó forest.
And the World Land Trust’s partner, FJ, got the chance to save the remaining 2% of it – about 57,000 acres in all – from one firm.
Other organisations are involved but the support from World Land Trust donors means that 1,667 acres will be saved – that’s an expansion of the Canandé Reserve which links it to other areas that are protected in the region.
The area is so diverse that scientists took just 45 minutes to find a new species!In fact, 25% of its flora and 10% of its fauna can’t be found anywhere else on earth The Canandé Reserve is a botanical haven. It’s home to about 375 bird species and 135 reptile and amphibian species of whom 28 are globally threatened. Goodness knows how many other species live there!
The Orangutan Foundation celebrated their 30th Anniversary in October 2020 so it would be wonderful to see this appeal completed in the same year!
They are looking to raise £300,000 for conservation work that’s really vital.
In doing so, they want to save three species of orangutan: The Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli orangutans. They are all critically endangered and are all suffering from a severe loss of tropical forest habitat. As a result, their population numbers have plummeted by an incredible 90%.
What will the £300,000 be used for?
In Borneo, it will be used for the following (and I’m kind of quoting):
Protecting habitat in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and the Tanjung Puting National Park
Protection the operation of 8 guard posts in the Lamandau Wildlife Reserve and two in the Tanjung Puting National Park
Monitoring the health and behaviour of orangutans who have been released
Supporting the veterinary and monitoring operations at 5 release camps
Restoring degraded lands in the reserve
Supporting the reforestation programme to increase the extent of habitat that’s suitable for the orangutans
Conserving orangutans in landscapes outside conservation areas
Collaborating with stakeholders across 2.5 million acres of prime forest habitat
The Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme needs funds urgently to:
Manage peatlands in the Leuser Ecosytem
Protect carbon-rich peatlands with the highest orangutan densities
Protect the Tapanuli orangutans in the Batang Toru Ecosystem
Increase protected status of their habitat and connecting fragmented forests
Build up newly established wild populations in Jantho and Bukit Tigapuluh
Support SOCP’s reintroduction of rehabilitated ex-captive orangutans.
Transfer ‘unreleasable’ orangutans to the new Orangutan Haven
Care for disabled or sick orangutans that cannot be released back to the wild.
So you can see that the £300,000 will be very well spent and really help make a difference to orangutans (and a lot of other species living in the area who also call the forests home).
Both organisations have done a great deal of work in the time they have been looking after orangutans and now they need to do more to help them. The Tapanuli species of orangutan was only found in 2017.
If we could get 60,000 people to donate £5 or its equivalent, that would hit the target!
The okapi live in the dense jungle of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is a respected cultural symbol of the DRC, and yet its threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture, illegal gold mining, logging, encroachment from human settlemelnt and bushmeat poaching – even though it’s had protected status since 1933.
The DRC has also suffered from general economic and civil instability of the after years of conflict.
Hence the need for a World Okapi Day. And this year, is on 18 October 2020!
It’s a day to celebrate the okapi – and to protect the forest ecosystem where okapi live. Did you know the okapi are known as forest giraffe?
The Okapi Conservation Project is located within the Ituri Forest, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Okapi Wildlife Reserve was created in 1992, encompassing 13,700 square kilometers, in 1996, it was designated as a United Nation's World Heritage Site. Over 1,500 types of plants and animals, including the okapi, are found only here in the world.
The Ituri Forest is also the cultural centre of the Mbuti and Efe pygmies, among the last true “forest people” left on Earth.
The Institute in Congo for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN) is a government agency. It’s task is to protect the flora and fauna. Wardens, rangers and guards all have protection and law-enforcement responsibilities. They were instrumental in the manhunt that took down a poacher, Morgan and his syndicate. They also eliminated several elephant poacher rings.
They evict miners, collect snares, catch and detain poachers, watch agricultural expansion and engage locals in conservation awareness and education. They walk for up to 20 days a month going out on patrol, away from their families and homes, and risking their lives in the rainforest.
Rangers are recruited from local villages close to the reserve, and they include women. They all have 3 months’ rigorous training before heading out on patrol.
The Okapi Conservation Project works closely with the ICCN to make sure resources for a rapid response to any threat to the reserve are available.
Healthcare and housing for ICCN personnel and their families, in addition to equipment, supplies, facilities and infrastructure are supported by OCP and its partners, along with specialized education and training in not only wildlife management but communications, technology, and language. The Project works with a network of collaborative partners, too, including many zoos.
Of course, like so many world events, in 2020 things are different because of covid-19.
Celebrations will be on radio waves – the Okapi Conservation Project will flood radio stations in and around the nature reserve. Messages will focus on the okapi, protecting the forest, the importance of the environment to our own human health – and ways in which people can protect the forest for okapi and other generations.
Things we can do on World Okapi Day:
1. Follow the day on social media: #OkapiConservation and #WorldOkapiDay and tell people about okapis.