Pride Campaign: Guinean Forests of West Africa
Country: Sierra Leone
Partner: Environmental Foundation for Africa
Campaign Manager: Edward Sesay
Project Area: Located in the western part of Sierra Leone, the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve forms the westernmost limit of remnant rain forest in the country. The site has been gazetted as a non-hunting forest and designated an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International.
Principal Threats: The Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve is threatened by increased fuel wood harvesting, timber production/stick harvesting, creation of new settlements, small-scale subsistence farming, stone mining, hunting, and road construction. These pressures are attributed in part to poor law enforcement and lack of knowledge of forest regulations and reserve boundaries. Poverty, harsh economic conditions, and the lack of funding for conservation in Sierra Leone are all important factors aggravating these threats.
Campaign Goal: To minimize threats posed to the tropical rainforest and wildlife in the Western Area Peninsular Forest Reserve
Flagship Species: The bareheaded rockfowl, or white-necked picathartes (Picathartes gymnocephalus) is among seven priority globally threatened bird species in Africa. It is classified as vulnerable. This bird is widely distributed in the country but threatened by habitat destruction and degradation, unsustainable development and reduced breeding success.
Campaign Slogan: “A Healthy Forest for a Healthy Future”
Notable information from the questionnaire survey:
The survey was administered in twenty communities inside the campaign target area, targeting 700 people, with 454 males and 246 females interviewed. Notable information from the survey includes:
- There was a general agreement (61.9%) that the reserve is in danger of being destroyed.
- 65.5% think it is very important to have laws protecting the reserve.
- Only 14.4% said they are very familiar with the regulations that protect the reserve.
- Only 7.2% knew the correct name of the reserve.
Campaign SMART Objectives:
- Objective 1: By educating the general public about forestry regulations, those who say they are involved in cutting sticks inside the reserve will be reduced from 48.10% down to 25%, and other activities such as harvesting timber, fuel wood/charcoal burning inside will also subsequently go down within 12 months of the project implementation
- Objective 2: By conducting awareness visits and working with schools and community people around the forest reserve, the number of people who did not participate in conservation awareness activities will be reduced from 49.1% down to 25% within 12 months of project implementation
- Objective 3: By raising public awareness on the status of the Bareheaded Rockfowl, the number of general public who would like to see the bird protected, would increase from 32.5% to 57% within 12 months of project implementation
- Objective 4: By conducting awareness visits and working with schools on environmental programs the number of students who say that the bareheaded rockfowl is in danger of extinction due to man’s activities will increase from 10.39% to 40%, within 12 months of project implementation
- Objective 5: Within one year of the project’s implementation, community monitoring groups will be set up in each of the 15 (out of 20) communities surrounding the reserve to monitor the status of the forest reserve and adherence of community members to forestry laws
- Objective 6: By raising awareness on the forestry laws/regulations, the percentage of the general public who say they are very familiar with the regulations that protect the reserve will increase, from 8.9% to 33% within 12 months of project implementation
- Objective 7: By conducting awareness visits and working closely with farmers and other community members, the number of farmers who say they are involved in farming inside the reserve will be reduced, from 28.4% down to 5% within 12 months of project implementation
- Objective 8: Within one year of the project’s implementation, establish a system to improve the demarcation of the boundaries of the reserve to better inform communities living around the reserve of its edge and monitoring long term the respect of its boundaries
Highlights from the Results (based on pre- and post-campaign surveys:)
- The percentage of general public who say they would like to see the bareheaded rockfowl protected increased from 32% to 51%.
- 60% of farmers (up from 20%) reported committing no illegal activities in the reserve within the previous 6 months.
Sesay facilitated training of police officers in environmental and wildlife law and played a key role in the revision of the forestry and wildlife laws of the country now pending ratification by the Parliament.