Sharing Knowledge of Conservation Priorities in West Africa

In Focus, August 2002

The Upper Guinean Forest stretches approximately 420,000 square kilometers across six countries, but centuries of human activity have resulted in a loss of more than 70 percent of the original forest cover and left the remaining forest highly fragmented. The area is part of the Guinean Forests of West Africa biodiversity hotspot.

Determining where and how best to focus conservation efforts is vital for lasting success but so, too, is widely sharing the results. One project is helping meet the challenge.

The project team in Conservation International's West Africa program has created maps and full color workshop reports in English and French, a special, multi-language CD-ROM database and a Web site presenting the results of an intensive workshop to determine the highest priorities for conservation in the region. The project is an important extension to the

priority-setting workshop, documenting the results in multiple formats and ensuring dissemination throughout the region and beyond.

The project is made possible through support from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International and UNDP/GEF.

Dissemination is a vital part of the project, as is the continuation of the participatory process begun at the workshop.

Product launches have been held in Ghana, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia, where workshop participants and other local representatives helped develop distribution strategies. The team has distributed the maps and workshop reports widely and started distributing the CD-ROM to workshop participants, national governments and other stakeholders throughout the region.

The aim is to equip decisionmakers, donors and others with the best possible information to take strategic action where it matters most and to enhance conservation planning efforts and focus investment in areas of greatest conservation importance.

Users of these tools will find information in a variety of multi-media formats, including images, maps, reports and findings.

The CD-ROM also includes a special software component that allows users to view and analyze the geographic data gathered as part of the priority-setting process. The contents form the base for the new Web site. Like the other workshop products, the site includes detailed maps on the top geographic priorities for conservation of birds, mammals, plants, reptiles and other wildlife.