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Ecosystem Profile: Upper Guinean Forest, Guinean Forests of West Africa
December 14, 2000
Background: The Guinean Forest Hotspot
Biological Importance of the Guinean Forest Hotspot
Assessment of Current Investment
CEPF Niche for Investment in the Region
CEPF Investment Strategy and Programmatic Focus
The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) is designed to better safeguard the world's threatened biological hotspots in developing countries. It is a joint initiative of Conservation International (CI), the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. CEPF provides financing to projects located in biodiversity hotspots, the biologically richest and most endangered places on Earth.
CEPF has been designed to build on the World Bank's commitment to biodiversity conservation and sustainable management, primarily implemented through the GEF and channeled to governments. CEPF will complement the efforts of the World Bank and the GEF to conserve biodiversity conservation by providing a streamlined funding mechanism to a broad range of civil society partners, including NGOs, community groups and private sector partners.
CEPF will further the overall goals of the Bank at the country level by offering an opportunity to engage local communities and other stakeholders in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management. CEPF will also provide an important learning experience through an innovative online grant system at www.cepf.net and by focusing on on-the-ground results and experience. The site is designed to serve as a central node, disseminating lessons learned and facilitating cross-regional information exchange on conservation successes. It will also promote replication of successful projects by providing access to a wide range of resources designed to aid project implementers in the biodiversity hotspots.
CEPF will strive to use lessons from other programs, particularly the GEF's medium grants procedure, to ensure that funds are provided expeditiously and with appropriate, cost-effective levels of accountability. CEPF will also use the GEF national focal points to ensure client country endorsement of the strategic direction of the CEPF. CEPF is intended to complement, rather than duplicate or overlap with, regular GEF activities.
CEPF will support strategic working alliances among community groups, NGOs, government, academia and the private sector, combining unique capacities and eliminating duplication of efforts for a more comprehensive approach to conservation challenges. CEPF is unique among other funding mechanisms in that it focuses specifically on biological areas rather than political boundaries and will look at conservation threats on a corridor-wide basis for maximum return on investment. In the case of West Africa, the majority of previous funding has been country-specific, making CEPF one of the early transboundary mechanisms used in the region. The strategic directions of the CEPF program are based on a priority-setting process that has taken place in the region, and target funding gaps in the larger regional strategy. Building on the collaborative processes already underway in the region will allow cooperation in an area rich in biological value yet straddling several national borders. Clearly, a regional approach will be more effective than a national one. In addition, CEPF has taken steps to assess current levels of funding in the region and aims to disburse funds to civil society in a more agile manner, complementing current funding available to government agencies.
Funds will be used to provide small grants to conservation projects managed by private, NGO, and civil society groups working in the critical ecosystems. Funding from CEPF at the project level will leverage additional financial and in-kind contributions. By funding conservation efforts in production landscapes, such as agricultural areas, CEPF has the potential to build broader-than-usual support for conservation measures, thereby increasing the chances for sustainability.
In summary, CEPF offers an opportunity to promote the conservation of some of the most important ecosystems in the world - places of high biodiversity and great beauty. In addition, the importance of meeting conservation goals is enhanced by the growing recognition of the values provided by healthy, diverse ecosystems in areas such as agriculture, forestry, water supply and fisheries. These issues are critical to the Bank's efforts to alleviate poverty. CEPF will deliver assistance in an agile manner and it will allow the engagement of a wide range of local community groups, civil society organizations, NGOs and private companies in addressing conservation needs.
The most up-to-date assessment of conservation needs in the Upper Guinea region - including recommendations for priority areas, research opportunities, policy issues, and threats reduction - emerged from a Conservation Priority-Setting Workshop (CPW) held in Elmina, Ghana, in December 1999. The CPW, entitled "From the Forest to the Sea: Biodiversity Connections from Guinea to Togo," convened more than 140 expert conservationists, biologists, government officials, planners, and social scientists from nearly 30 countries. In a five-day consensus-building exercise, the participants combined their knowledge of biological distributions, habitat status, institutional capacities, and socioeconomic trends and opportunities to create a comprehensive picture of conservation in the six-country region comprised by the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem.
The resulting CPW outputs, including map, report, and CD-ROM with databases (the latter two to be released by early 2001), offer an investment guide to biodiversity conservation in the region, and suggest paths to conservation success in forest and coastal zones of the Upper Guinea region. The CPW was organized and coordinated by Conservation International, with support from the GEF. The results, however, are based on contributions from participants, and will be distributed to, and used by, multiple parties. The outputs have great potential to enrich ongoing national processes, such as National Biodiversity Conservation Strategies and National Environmental Action Plans, as well as evaluations of conservation effectiveness throughout the region. The CEPF ecosystem profile is largely based on recommendations from the CPW.
With the backdrop of a consensus-driven baseline of priorities, the ecosystem profile for the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem focuses on a review of known threats to biodiversity conservation and the current level of "investment" that has been mobilized by donors, government agencies and NGOs to combat such threats. The results of this analysis highlight the complementary niche that the CEPF seeks to fill in the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem. This niche is supported by an investment strategy that seeks to achieve five main funding outputs:
The purpose of the investment strategy is to facilitate the effective participation by nongovernmental and other private-sector organizations in the conservation of biodiversity in the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem.
To be eligible for funding under this ecosystem profile, a project must not only contribute to one or more of the strategic funding outputs, but must also meet the following general criteria:
- strengthened local institutional capacity for conservation
- effective processes for coordination and ecosystem monitoring
- mechanisms for promotion and implementation of biodiversity corridors
- effective collaboration in community outreach, awareness building and education
- a fast response mechanism to address immediate and unpredicted conservation needs.
- Project execution must be within World Bank client countries that have ratified or otherwise acceded to the Convention on Biological Diversity. (In the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem, projects executed within five countries -Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Togo and Sierra Leone-would meet these criteria. Liberia's CBD ratification instrument is currently pending with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Any project directly involving organizations based in Liberia must await the formal acceptance of the country as a Party to the CBD.)
- Project funding may by no means result in the physical relocation of people, be used for the purchase of land, be directed toward a government entity, or be used for the capitalization of trust funds or similar financial instruments.
The Guinean Forest Hotspot represents the Guinean portion of the Guinea-Congolian forests and contains two main blocks that incorporate several major Pleistocene refugia. The Upper Guinea Forest Ecosystem extends from Guinea into eastern Sierra Leone, and eastward through Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana into western Togo. The Lower Guinea Forest Ecosystem extends from western Nigeria to the Sanaga River in southwestern Cameroon and also includes the islands of Bioko and Pagalu, both part of Equatorial Guinea, and São Tomé and Príncipe, which together are an independent nation. The two major ecosystems are separated by the Dahomey Gap, a mixture of savanna and dry forest, in Togo and Benin.
The Guinean Forest hotspot was originally covered in large part by tropical rainforest formations and extended an estimated 1,265,000 square kilometers. However, it has been dramatically reduced to a series of forest fragments separated by agricultural communities and degraded lands. Overall, the region retains approximately 141,000 square kilometers of closed canopy forest cover, or roughly 15% of its original vegetation, and only a little more than 20,000 square kilometers of the land area is found in national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries that meet international standards for protection. It is important to note that, compared to the rest of this ecoregion, the Gulf of Guinea islands have higher percentages of their original forest cover intact, due largely to the inaccessibility of steep volcanic slopes that dominate these islands.
In terms of original extent, the Guinean Forest hotspot ranks fifth among the 25 hotspots identified by Conservation International (the top four are the Mediterranean Basin, Indo-Burma, the Brazilian Cerrado and Sundaland). Its ranking rises to fourth on the world list when only the area still intact is measured. In that category, it trails the Brazilian Cerrado, the Tropical Andes, and Mesoamerica. When one considers the land area currently under official protection, however, the Guinean Forests fall to 12th among the hotspots, suggesting that a great deal of work lies ahead to safeguard this region's biodiversity.
Aquatic systems, freshwater as well as coastal wetlands and near-shore marine communities, are clearly affected by upstream changes in terrestrial -and especially forested- environments. The north-south river systems that flow through the region show the impact of growing human populations, deforestation, expansion of commercial agriculture, and mining. Freshwater aquatic communities are not only heavily harvested -they are also degraded due to poor sanitation, siltation, and pollution. Furthermore, the capacity of rivers to support fisheries and coastal wetland and mangrove habitats is progressively weakened as they flow along their inland courses. Consequently, coastal habitats that are sustained by the ocean-bound freshwater flow are important not only for near-shore artisanal fishing but also for commercial marine fisheries, which are degraded. Marine turtles and manatees, as well as mangroves, wetland communities, and important sites for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl, are still found along the coasts, but receive limited protection. In addition to the challenges created by prevailing land use along watercourses, the conservation of aquatic systems and watersheds is often complicated by their transnational character, reflecting the impact of political fragmentation on the West African landscape.
Approximately 9,000 species of vascular plants are estimated to occur in the Guinean Forest Hotspot, which ranks it eighth among the hotspots along with the Chocó-Darién/Western Ecuador. Of the plants, 2,250 (25%) are believed to be endemic, suggesting a global ranking of 15th in the number of endemic species (again along with the Chocó-Darién/Western Ecuador), and a ranking below median among hotspots with respect to the percentage of endemics (Wallacea Hotspot has a 15% rate of plant endemism; the Madagascar and Indian Ocean Islands Hotspot and New Zealand Hotspot have rates of 81%). On average, there are 71 species of vascular plants for every square kilometer of intact natural vegetation in the Guinean Forest Hotspot. This falls in the bottom fifth of the hotspots, the low being 28 species per square kilometer for the Brazilian Cerrado and the high being a remarkable 2,000 species per square kilometer in the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests of Kenya and Tanzania. The number of endemic plants per square kilometer, approximately 18, is also on the lower end of the scale with the least being 12 for the Brazilian Cerrado and the greatest being approximately 700, for the Eastern Arc Mountains and Coastal Forests.
Hotspot rankings aside, another global analysis conducted on centers of plant diversity and endemism has identified 14 centers of plant endemism within the Guinean Forest Hotspot: Taï National Park in Côte d'Ivoire, Southeast Forest Remnants in Côte d'Ivoire, Southeast Ghana, Mount Nimba on the Liberia-Guinea-Côte d'Ivoire border, the Cestos-Senkwen River Area in Liberia, Lofa-Mano in Liberia, Sapo National Park in Liberia, the Gola Forests in Sierra Leone, Loma in Sierra Leone, the Cross River National Park in Nigeria, Korup National Park in Cameroon, Mount Cameroon, Príncipe, and São Tomé. These should be considered in the assessment of focal areas for biodiversity conservation within the hotspot.
Levels of faunal diversity and endemism in the Guinean Forests are also impressive. Mammalian diversity, with 551 species, ranks first among the world's 25 hotspots and represents almost half of the 1,150 mammals that are native to continental Africa. Of the Guinean Forests' 551 mammals, 45 (8%) are endemic, a global ranking of 13th in terms of number and a relatively low percentage. At 4.3 mammal species per square kilometer of intact natural vegetation, the Guinean Forest Hotspot ranks an impressive seventh on the world list. However, as suggested by the figures for endemism, the ratio of endemic mammals to remaining intact natural vegetation is also on the lower end of the global scale at 0.3 per square kilometer.
Based on the Guinean Forest's rank as the world's foremost hotspot for mammalian diversity, combined with the relatively high number of species per unit area of intact natural vegetation and the large area of such vegetation that remains unprotected, it is clear that the single highest global priority for mammal conservation must be an increase in the size and number of protected areas within this region. The forest elephant (Loxodonta africana cyclotis) and bongo (Boocerus euryceros) have emerged as important flagship species for conservation in the Guinean region and beyond, as have Guinean endemics such as the pygmy hippopotamus (Hexaprotodon liberiensis), several species of forest duikers (Cephalophus jentinki, C. maxwelli, C. niger, C. zebra) and a host of highly endangered primate species and subspecies.
The status of the Guinean Forest primates, in fact, ranks it with the Indo-Burma Hotspot among the two highest-priority regions for primate conservation. According to the 2000 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, five primates are critically endangered: the white-collared mangabey (Cercocebus atys lunulatus), Roloway monkey (Cercopithecus diana roloway), Stampfl's putty-nosed guenon (Cercopithecus nictitans stampflii), Miss Waldron's red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni), and the Cross River gorilla (Gorilla gorilla diehli). Another 21 primates are considered endangered. All but the last two of these threatened primates, or 92%, are endemic to the Guinean Forests Hotspot, and at least one, Miss Waldron's red colobus, has not been sighted in over a quarter of a century and is suspected to be extinct. By far the most important centers for primate diversity, endemism and threat are the island of Bioko, the Nigeria-Cameroon border, and the forests of southwestern Ghana-southeastern Côte d'Ivoire.
Birds also exhibit significant levels of diversity and endemism in the Guinean Forest Hotspot, with 514 species (14th among the hotspots) and 90 (18%) endemics (10th among the hotspots in number and a significant percentage). The figures for bird diversity (4.1 species per square kilometer) and endemism (0.7 endemic species per square kilometer) per unit area of intact vegetation, while not singularly impressive, still help to establish this region among the global priorities for avian conservation. BirdLife International recognizes six Endemic Bird Areas partly or entirely within the Guinean Forest Hotspot: the Upper Guinean Forests, with 15 restricted-range and 11 threatened species; the Cameroon Mountains (which extend into Nigeria and also include the island of Bioko) with 29 restricted-range and 12 threatened species; the Cameroon and Gabon Lowlands with six restricted-range and two threatened species; the island of São Tomé with 21 restricted-range and eight threatened species; the island of Príncipe with 11 restricted-range and two threatened species; and the island Annobón (also Pagalu) with three restricted-range and two threatened species. Clearly, the Upper Guinean Forests, Cameroon Mountains and Gulf of Guinea islands emerge as high global priorities for avian priorities within this region.
Among the birds, important flagship species for tropical forest conservation in the Upper Guinean Forests include the white-breasted guinea fowl (Agelastes meleagrides), white-necked rockfowl (Picathartes gymnocephalus), rufous fishing owl (Scotopelia ussheri), Liberian greenbul (Phyllastrephus leucolepis), Nimba flycatcher (Malaenornis annamarulae) and the Gola malimbe (Malimbus ballmanni). On the island of São Tomé, three endemic and critically endangered species can be added to the list of conservation flagships: the dwarf olive ibis (Bostrychia bocagei), the São Tomé fiscal (Lanius newtonii) and São Tomé grosbeak (Neospiza concolor).
Of the region's terrestrial vertebrates, we know least about reptile and amphibian diversity. Minimum species estimates for each class are 139 and 116, respectively, but these should be regarded as preliminary. Levels of endemism within the known herpetological faunas are relatively high, however, with 46 species of reptile (33%) and 89 species of amphibian (77%) found only with the Guinean Forest Hotspot. While none of these figures place the Guinean Forests among the highest priority hotspots for reptile and amphibian conservation, the fact that we know relatively little about the levels of diversity and endemism for these vertebrate classes in this region establishes more extensive zoological research as a clear priority.
In terms of non-fish vertebrate diversity, West Africa's Guinean forests rank an impressive eighth among the world's hotspots, with 1,320 species, very similar to the level observed in Brazil's Atlantic Forest region. In terms of non-fish vertebrate endemism, the Guinean Forests rank 12th among the hotspots, with 270 endemic species or about 20% endemism. Given the relatively large area of intact natural vegetation, ratios of vertebrate diversity and endemism to area are relatively low compared to other hotspots, but this again points to the need to expand the total area of natural habitat under formal protection in order to safeguard this regions biodiversity.
The consensus recommendations of the Conservation Priority-setting Workshop underscore the need to strengthen and expand national protected areas and the systems that support them across the region. While some ambitious plans are being developed and pursued in several countries for reform of the protected area systems, protection in existing areas is not viable at current funding and capacity levels. Existing protected areas within the Guinean Forest Hotspot are listed in the table below. The degree to which they include natural intact vegetation is not known at present, nor is the degree to which levels of biodiversity and endemism are represented within these collective national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. However, responding to the extinction crisis resulting from the bushmeat trade, a recent analysis of primate conservation efforts within the hotspots has identified a number of these protected areas as especially high priorities for the Guinean Forest region. (In the table, these are indicated by an asterisk.)
* Identified as a high priority protected area for primate conservation.
Many of the 41 consensus priority areas identified by the experts fall outside of strict protected areas, some within a variety of classifications of management including faunal and forest reserves (or proposed protected areas). Still others fall entirely outside any protection or management regime. According to Conservation International's hotspot analysis, approximately 141,000 square kilometers (roughly 15%) of the Guinean Forest hotspot retains its natural vegetation intact (Fig.2). It is also important to note that only about 20,000 square kilometers of the hotspot can be found in Strict Nature Reserves and other protected areas, which represents less than 2% of the hotspot's original extent. This is well below the level of habitat protection recorded for the hotspots, which averages 40% of the natural vegetation intact.
Recommendations from the CPW include a priority emphasis on implementing the plans to establish the protected area system in Liberia, particularly in the northwest and southeast. Furthermore, experts encouraged initiatives such as those underway by Ghana to establish Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas. In many cases, recommendations include upgrading managed areas to national parks, nature reserves or wildlife sanctuaries and increasing levels of protection of resident biodiversity.
||Massif du Ziama Strict Nature Reserve
|Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
||Tiwai Island Game Reserve *
|Outamba-Kilimi National Park
|Gola Forest Nature Reserves *
||Sapo National Park *
||Azagny National Park
|Banco National Park
|Iles Ehotile National Park
|Marahoue National Park *
|Mount Peko National Park
|Mount Sangbe National Park
|Tai National Park *
|Mount Nimba Strict Nature Reserve
||Bia National Park *
|Digya National Park
|Kakum National Park
|Nini-Suhien National Park *
|Kogyae Strict Nature Reserve
|Bomfobiri Wildlife Sanctuary
|Owabi Wildlife Sanctuary
||Cross River National Park *
||Korup National Park *
||Pico Basile National Park
|Southern Highlands National Park *
The first decade of the 21st century could determine the future of biodiversity in West Africa. Principal threats to biodiversity and their root causes present a formidable challenge in a region that has lagged behind other parts of the world in terms of conservation investment and opportunity. The CEPF's funding strategy includes support for initiatives that address threats to conservation progress in the region. Alliances of conservationists with other resource sectors, and partnerships among complementary organizations, will be needed in order to resolve threats, eliminate barriers to conservation, and halt or reverse the processes that have created the region's biodiversity crisis.
The vision statement of the African Development Bank (2000) declares, "poverty alleviation is not just a noble goal and a worthy cause, but it is central to the achievement of long term sustainable development of the continent." Indeed, all of the region's threats to conservation are inextricably linked to poverty, which drives urgent short-term needs that eliminate long-term opportunities. Much of the livelihood of the region's population is closely dependent on, or not far removed from, the natural resource base and the variety of goods and services that healthy, productive ecosystems can provide. Unemployment and weak development of human capital stimulates social unrest, human migration, ethnic tension, and land tenure conflicts, frequently near forested lands. Timber and mineral resources become currency for the purchase of arms, which are then used to foment civil conflict, eroding the rule of law, sound governance, and social capital. Lack of access to health care reduces work force productivity and promotes the spread of HIV and AIDS. Infrastructure for education, communication, and commerce is limited and inadequately maintained. This lack of public investment and personal opportunity, reflected in a widespread lack of institutional capacity in government agencies, NGOs, and communities, all combine with a low level of environmental awareness to create a challenging landscape for conservation success.
The "plight of Guinea" began before the colonial period with widespread cultivation by the indigenous human population, which was then exacerbated during colonial times when the region was opened up to commercial plantations and large-scale logging. The effects of these policies were felt most severely in the British colonies of Sierra Leone, Ghana and Nigeria. In Sierra Leone, for example, forest exploitation began in the 1840s and reduced the overall forest cover from 70% to 6%in less than a century. The history of deforestation in Ghana and Nigeria has not been much better. Even in Liberia, which contains the largest remaining forest blocks in the Upper Guinea region, applications for concessions and the recent arrival of foreign logging companies constitute a clear and present threat to biodiversity conservation efforts in one of this hotspot's highest-priority areas.
Commercial logging in West Africa has historically been followed by slash-and-burn agriculture, which has exacted the greatest toll on the region's forests. The widespread practice of clearing, cultivating and then letting land lay fallow provides the major source of livelihood for the largely rural poor population of the forest region. Under low population pressures, slash-and-burn agriculture can be sustainable because fallow periods are often long enough to allow adequate reconstitution of soil fertility and restoration of the land's productivity. However, with populations now swelling throughout West Africa, fallow periods are becoming shorter and the demand for more "pristine" forested land, including that in parks and reserves, is increasing. The situation is aggravated by an influx of farmers from arid northern Africa. If the reliance on agricultural production remains prominent in this region, as is likely, this threat must be countered by measures that lessen the negative impact on biodiversity caused by traditional land management and growing methods.
Today, rapidly increasing population pressure is the most crucial factor in deforestation and land degradation in this region. For example, Nigeria is already the continent's most populous nation with more than 110 million people. With some of the world's highest annual growth rates, the populations of other West African countries are likely to double in size in the next two decades. Although this increase will not necessarily be concentrated in the remaining tropical forest ecosystems, the resulting demand for forested land will increase dramatically, and the pressure on existing protected areas will be even more severe than it already is. This will, no doubt, lead to over-exploitation of forest resources and the potential extinction of threatened species, especially some of the larger mammals. The threat, therefore, is twofold: (1) critical tropical rainforest land not yet included in the national systems of protected areas of the Guinean Forest region are likely to be irreparably altered before appropriate levels of protection can be established and (2) lands that are currently under official protection will continue to be depleted of forest cover and their overall biodiversity because current levels of protection and enforcement may not be sufficient to mitigate growing population pressure. Efforts to counter this pervasive threat to biodiversity are probably best focused at the community level in the areas surrounding existing and proposed protected areas, where it is important that people understand and appreciate the contribution that these areas can make to environmental stability, human health and local economies.
Both small-scale and industrial mining pose serious threats to the remaining tropical rainforests of the Guinean Hotspots, most of which are located on substrates rich in iron ore, diamonds, gold and bauxite. Large-scale mining is a particular concern in mountainous areas, such as Mount Nimba, where deposits of iron ore and bauxite are common and can severely affect freshwater systems and regional watersheds. Small-scale extraction of diamonds and gold poses threats to biodiversity through forest clearance and associated bushmeat hunting.
The hunting tradition is very strong in the Guinean forest countries, and bushmeat consumption has historically represented a significant source of protein for the rural population. The most commonly hunted game species are the larger birds and medium-sized mammals such as forest antelopes (duikers) and diurnal monkeys. Bushmeat hunting, like slash-and-burn agriculture, will not necessarily cause significant negative ecological impacts when practiced at subsistence levels in areas of low human population density. However, levels of bushmeat hunting in Central and West Africa have soared in recent years, especially as a function of logging. New logging roads provide easier access to formerly remote areas and allow hunters to move deeper into the forests. In addition to animals killed to meet subsistence needs, hunters are now being paid to shoot significantly more game to feed the growing number of logging crews, and they are not discouraged from shooting even more animals for sale in city markets. In fact, the logging companies that subsidize hunting to provide meat for logging crews also transport large quantities of bushmeat to major population centers. As a result, bushmeat hunting has now reached epidemic levels in the Guinean Forest region and is rightly blamed for the "empty forest syndrome" (the absence of wild animals in otherwise intact forest). It is also largely responsible for driving several of West Africa's primate species to the brink of extinction -or maybe even beyond, as suggested by reports that no evidence of Miss Waldron's red colobus can be found in its former range in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire despite several intensive surveys over the last few years. This threat will be difficult to combat without the cooperation of foreign logging companies that now subsidize the over-exploitation of native wildlife. It will also need to be attacked at the market level due to consumers' willingness to pay much higher prices for bushmeat. Bushmeat hunting is a large-scale problem that will require a comprehensive strategy to address. CEPF resources will help mitigate bushmeat trade, but CI's Center for Applied Biodiversity Sciences will take a more active leadership role in addressing this issue.
Coastal zones are also under intense pressures, including pollution, habitat degradation, erosion, overexploitation, and degradation of marine resources. Urbanization along coasts is high, and human population growth rates range from 3-5%. Fish, mollusks, and crayfish serve as principal protein sources for coastal populations, and they are increasingly transported upcountry to interior markets. Sea turtles and their eggs are over harvested. Mangrove forests are intensively used by communities and are under threat of clearing for aquaculture. Local interests in coastal resources face competition from multinational companies for fisheries as well as mining of oil and minerals -which creates additional ecosystem pressures.
Local capacity to carry out conservation work in this region appears to be lower than in any other top-priority hotspot, except perhaps Indo-Burma. Recent survey data do not exist for many key species or for the most important protected areas, and many of the region's national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries are inadequately funded and staffed. There are very few trained specialists in environmental conservation, wildlife management or restoration ecology, and overall there is a low level of international involvement in conservation. NGOs are few and have yet to play a significant role in conservation. Similarly, the links between conservation and the West African academic community, in the form of research assistance and as repositories of information, are limited. When the low capacities in these areas are combined with the historic lack of regional planning and integration needed in order to foster international dialogue, it is easy to understand the lack of an effective conservation plan for the ecoregion as a whole. Clearly, a great investment must be made in the training of biologists and resource managers, in combination with basic surveys of biodiversity in the existing protected area networks and beyond. Conservationists need to know, more accurately and in greater detail, to what extent biodiversity is distributed throughout this hotspot, to what degree it is presently protected, and where the broadest gaps in protection are.
The cultural diversity of the Guinean Forest Hotspot is reflected in the vast number of languages spoken by different ethnic groups in each of the countries. Many of these are split across national borders, so that their political reality is shaped by the drastically different legacies of the Dutch, German, French, British, Spanish, Portuguese and freed slaves in Liberia and Sierra Leone. In the period since independence, nation-building has been prioritized over regional cooperation. As a result, the hotspot is fragmented not only in terms of forest cover, but also of language, infrastructure, and legal and financial systems. Cross-border tension limit international collaboration. At national levels, weak accountability and quests for power lead to corruption, which can neutralize good policy where it does exist.
The continuum of conflict, ranging from tension to warfare to post-conflict recovery, presents challenges to conservation at every point. Protected areas in Côte d'Ivoire face encroachment and unrest from migrant farmers searching for settlement lands and agricultural sites. Refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone flee into forests in adjacent countries, settle, and survive by hunting already-reduced populations of wildlife. War is waged over the control of diamond and timber resources. The 600,000 or more refugees who have settled in Guinea exceed the capacity of that country's forests to provide fuelwood, building materials, and other products.
The threat to biodiversity conservation posed by national and regional conflict must be met with conservation efforts rooted at the local level and fully supported by the people in charge of implementation. This should help reinforce the commitment of institutions that can provide large-scale support and that must remain confident that essential programs will continue even during times of civil unrest, corruption and uncertain governance.
This section provides a breakdown of the various donors, government agencies, NGOs, academic and research institutions, and private-sector concerns that play a significant role in biodiversity conservation in the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem. Many programs and activities described here will also appear in a subsequent section of this profile that describes opportunities for CEPF investment.
For the region overall, foreign donor assistance accounts for approximately 9% of the aggregate Gross Domestic Product of West African countries. Of this amount, approximately half is derived from multilateral sources and half from bilateral sources. The principal multilateral sources include the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations agencies and the European Union. France, Germany, Japan, the United States, the Netherlands and Canada are the largest bilateral donors.
The prevailing trends in multilateral and bilateral donor investment in West Africa are relevant to biodiversity conservation only by comparison, not as a focus of the investments themselves. In fact, the portion of this support directed to biodiversity or, more generally, to environmental conservation has accounted for only 0.1% of the total investment by these countries and institutions over recent decades. In the region, conservation has been regarded as a luxury compared to the alleviation of poverty and refugee needs. Meanwhile, environmental degradation undermines the resources on which future economic growth and development depend.
Support from the Global Environmental Facility, channeled to Conservation International through the United Nations Development Program, was instrumental in conducting the West African Conservation Priority-Setting Workshop (From the Forest to the Sea: Biodiversity Connections from Guinea to Togo) in December 1999. As noted, many of the recommendations from the workshop form the basis for strategic directions that will be supported by the CEPF.
The World Bank-funded initiative that is most relevant in the region is the West Africa Pilot Community-Based Natural Resource and Wildlife Management Project. While the project's focus is on drylands outside the Guinean Forest Hotspot, it is relevant for two reasons. First, it is an ongoing ambitious transboundary initiative in the region (between Côte d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso), and second, it promotes connectivity by working with communities on compatible land uses bordering national parks, and promotes sustainable use by building capacity for conservation-based enterprise.
The African Development Bank (ADB), based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, unites 53 African member countries and 24 nonregional members. Recognizing the importance of a strong resource base, the ADB has added environmental protection to its strategic areas of focus, and in its vision statement identifies environment and gender as two cross-cutting issues that will pervade all of its operations and sectoral activities. Additionally, its role in supporting good governance in member countries is described as "probably the single most important catalytic role the Bank will play in the years ahead in the fight against poverty." The ADB's developing role in resource management and multisector planning is expected to expand in the coming decade.
Similarly, the role of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is expected to expand as its Early Warning Observatory becomes operational. Already involved in issues of governance, peace, and security, this regional entity now includes environmental degradation and monitoring among its goals. The 16 nation members of ECOWAS share a commitment to reduction of economic barriers across national lines, and consider environmental and resource management to be essential strategic components of a strengthened regional economy.
A large portion of the international support for environmental projects in West Africa is channeled through government ministries and institutions whose objectives include the management and regulation of natural resources. The appropriate agencies for each country in the Guinean Forest hotspot are:
||Ministry of Construction & Environment
Direction de la Protection de la Nature
Protected Area Management Program
Société de Développement des Forêts
||Ministry of Lands and Forestry
Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology
Environmental Protection Agency
Water Resources Commission
||Administration et Coordination des Grands Projets
Direction Nationale de l'Environnement
Direction Nationale des Eaux et Forêts
Direction Nationale des Mines
||Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs
Forestry Development Authority
National Environmental Commission of Liberia
||Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and the Environment
||Ministère de l'Environnement
Direction de la Faune et de la Chasse
These are examples of national programs that have received support from international donor agencies for projects implemented by the government agencies listed above.
National Protected Areas Management Program (PCGAP): Côte d'Ivoire's 12-year National PCGAP has been launched at a projected cost of US$68 million to enhance the country's protected-area management capacity, both by broadening the array of partners and improving the relationship between people and protected areas. National implementing agencies will be the Ministry of Construction and the Environment and the Directorate for Nature Protection. Because implementation of the strategy implies important legal and institutional reforms as well as major capacity-building efforts, PCGAP will be implemented in phases using the World Bank's Adaptable Program Lending mechanism, with multiple donors participating.
Primary goals for the PCGAP are to:
The development objective will be achieved by establishing an appropriate legal framework, creating new institutions to manage the technical and financial aspects of the system, and investing in activities in the protected areas themselves.
Groundwork has been laid for PCGAP with resources from government, GEF Block C, EU STABEX funds and contributions by the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International. Simultaneous work has focused on establishment of a new national institution for protected area management and the stabilization of three protected areas (Marahoué, Comoe and Mt. Peko) under the "Programme Transitoire." The project financing plan includes US$15 million from the International Development Association, US$12 million from the Government of Côte d'Ivoire and US$41 million in co-financing from the European Development Fund (EDF), Fonds d'Aide et de Cooperation, Agence Francaise de Développement, GEF, Kreditanstalt Fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the World Wildlife Fund. This support will be directed toward deforestation, biodiversity protection, land tenure and land management.
UNDP-GEF: The GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) was launched in 1992 by UNDP. The GEF/SGP provides grants of up to US$50,000 and other support to community-based organizations and NGOs for activities that address local problems related to the GEF areas of concern. Since its inception, the GEF/SGP has funded over 1,500 projects in Africa, North America and the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, the programme is operational in 50 countries, including Côte d'Ivoire.
The GEF/SGP recognizes the essential role that households and communities, applying locally appropriate solutions, can play in conserving biodiversity, reducing the likelihood of adverse climate change, and protecting international waters. The program operates on the premise that people will be empowered to protect their environment when they are organized to take action, have a measure of control over access to the natural resource base, have the necessary information and knowledge, and believe that their social and economic well-being is dependent on sound long-term resource management. However, the GEF/SGP is more than simply a fund that provides small grants to improve the local environment. By raising public awareness, building partnerships, and promoting policy dialogue, the GEF/SGP seeks to create a more supportive environment within countries for achieving sustainable development and addressing global environment issues.
The decentralized structure of the Small Grants Programme encourages maximum country and community level ownership and initiative. UNDP-GEF Small Grants Programme is supporting a project for the protection and recovery of degraded mangroves in an area near the Azagny National Park in Fresco.
- provide the Government of Côte d'Ivoire with the capacity to effectively manage protected areas over the long term;
- develop and implement sustainable resource management strategies that enhance NGO, private sector and community involvement; and
- restore most protected areas to ecologically acceptable levels.
In Ghana, the United States Agency for International Development(USAID) has invested heavily in Kakum National Park and has pledged US$2 million to endow the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust, as part of an economic growth through resource conservation initiative in Ghana's Central Region. Other important biodiversity investment in recent years has come through the European Union, which has focused on an integrated development and conservation program for Bia and Ankasa National Park, and several major World Bank initiatives over the past decade in the forest and wildlife sectors that laid the groundwork for a National Resource Management Program.
Natural Resource Management Program(NRMP): The government of Ghana has obtained a US$8.6 million grant from the GEF to support implementation of the Biodiversity Component of its US$90 million NRMP, for which the World Bank is coordinating investments from several donors. This program will be conducted under the auspices the Ministry of Lands and Forestry. In Phase I of the NRMP, the Biodiversity Component will be implemented to identify, document, establish and legally protect two new types of strict protected areas, Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas and Provenance Protection Areas, in remnant dry forests of southern Ghana. All of the targeted forests are currently listed as forest reserves and are not included within the national system of protected areas.
The NRMP seeks to establish an appropriate national policy and an effective institutional framework for sustainable natural resource management, and to develop and test resource management systems. There are five project components:
Recent talks have raised the prospect of integrating the follow-up program to the Coastal Wetland Management Program, creating a strategic package.
UNDP-GEF: The GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF/SGP) was launched in 1992 by UNDP. The GEF/SGP provides grants of up to US$50,000 and other support to community-based organizations and NGOs for activities that address local problems related to the GEF areas of concern. Since its inception, the GEF/SGP has funded over 1,500 projects in Africa, North America and the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Today, the programme is operational in 50 countries, including Ghana. The UNDP-GEF project description under development is "Preparation of a Trans-Boundary Diagnostic Analysis for the Integrated Management of the Volta River basin."
The objective is to prepare a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, a preliminary outline of a Strategic Action Programme (SAP), and a GEF Project Brief. The project aims to establish the framework for a consensus-building process for which the long-term purpose is to secure global environmental benefits by reducing the degradation of the Volta River basin.
All the activities to be implemented in the PDF-B are designed as preparatory actions, and require a regionally collaborative SAP.
The project brief that will be submitted to the GEF will outline the modalities of operation and management of the full project. The document will include identification of priority short-term actions -i.e., pilot projects. More specifically, the project brief will include a list of activities required for the formulation of an SAP- such as additional studies; demonstration projects to test feasibility and costs; priority investment projects; and capacity-building at national and regional levels, including an analysis of baseline and incremental costs.
The GEF/SGP is also funding a Hippo Conservation Project on the north border of the Bui National Park, to be implemented by Conservation International, as well as two projects in the Western Region: Wantram Sacred Grove Conservation in an off-reserve area, and a second project that supports NGO efforts to conserve on and off-reserve forests in exceptional hotspots by maximizing returns per unit area of forest land in ways that are compatible with forest conservation.
- First, high-forest resource management will establish forest policy and legal framework, design and test integrated forest reserve management systems, and encourage private-sector involvement in settings on and off forest reserves.
- Second, savanna resource management will develop new multidisciplinary approaches to dry lands management, and will improve systems for community-based management of savanna woodland and other resources.
- Third, wildlife resource management will retrain personnel in the Wildlife Department and introduce park and reserve management plans.
- Fourth, environmental management coordination will support district-level planning and monitoring, and will improve information flow among sectoral agencies.
- Fifth, biodiversity conservation efforts will develop and implement integrated reserve management plans.
Guinea received support from the USAID, approximately US$4 million of which has been directed to the Guinea Natural Resources Management Project completed in September 1999. This project focused on the Fouta Djallon Highlands. It is being followed by the Expanded Natural Resources Management Project, which will run through the year 2005 and include other forested regions of Guinea, possibly those of the southeastern portion of the country.
The European Commission has supported watershed-based regional planning in the northern sector of the country, including the establishment of national parks and agricultural and infrastructure development.
UNEP-GEF is in the process of developing a project brief on "Integrated Management of the Fouta Djallon Highlands" with UNEP functioning as the lead IA with support from World Bank and UNDP. The Executing Agencies at a regional level are International Co-ordination Office (ICO/OAU) of the FDH-IRDP, Conakry, Guinea, in collaboration with ECOWAS.
The main objectives of the GEF project to be developed during the PDF-B are the conservation and sustainable use of the international watersheds and the biodiversity resources of the Fouta Djallon Highlands that are of paramount importance for the subregion. The GEF project will draw on the experiences and information collected by the Fouta Djallon Programme coordinated by ICO-OAU, to promote holistic approaches to integrated ecosystem management and to design participatory and community-based strategies for management of basin slopes in the Fouta Djallon Highlands that will lead to in-situ conservation and sustainable use of soil, water and biota. These activities are also expected to mitigate downstream effects of land degradation in the international river basins originate in the Highlands. The project will take a watershed approach to ensure transfer of best practices and lessons learned between different river catchments, and to identify socially and culturally acceptable approaches that are economically viable; the resulting improvements in land management and catchment management will be disseminated throughout the Highlands. The project will also draw on the broad political support for the OAU-coordinated program from the eight member states watered by rivers originating in the Highlands.
Liberia's ratification of the Convention on Biodiversity is still pending approval by the Secretariat; until it is approved, Liberia will not be eligible for CEPF support or any GEF investment. The UNDP and European Union resident representatives have both taken personal leadership to initiate the first significant biodiversity investment since Liberia's civil war. Last year UNDP pledged US$350,000 to establish the National Environmental Commission, and the EU approved a US$750,000 for a forest assessment that requires 20% matching funds. In addition, the U.K.-based Darwin Initiative has recently invested US$100,000 in Sapo National Park, the country's sole protected area.
Biodiversity investment in Sierra Leone in recent years has been limited to extremely small sums through regional NGOs such as the Environmental Foundation for Africa and individual field research biologists.
The NGO community in West Africa includes local, national and international entities, many of which have interests in natural resource management and conservation - including management of natural habitats, investment in capacity-building, and better communication regarding the significance of conservation efforts.
Local and National NGOs: Local NGOs vary significantly with regard to their institutional capacity and the degree to which their activities focus on biodiversity conservation. Many are young institutions that lack experience. Others function largely as consultants to development agencies, working on contracts. Many have a limited geographic scope. The leading NGOs in this region, in terms of their past and potential contribution to biodiversity conservation, have worked on biodiversity conservation projects in the past, maintain an active presence with government agencies, and have track records that indicate leadership potential for the civil sector. These are:
Ghana Wildlife Society
Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia
Conservation Society of Sierra Leone
Nigerian Conservation Society
The Environmental Foundation for Africa, based in Monrovia, Liberia, has worked successfully in the U.K. to raise awareness and build support there for the region. The foundation has emphasized the impact of conflict on conservation. Although small and young, its focus and leadership occupy a unique niche among regional organizations.
International NGOs dedicated to biodiversity conservation in the region are relatively few. World Wide Fund for Nature - International (WWF-IT) maintains a regional office in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, providing conservation support to a large region extending from Senegal to Nigeria. In Côte d'Ivoire, WWF-IT serves as partner to the government for the management of Comoe National Park and participates in a consortium that advises the government on the development of PCGAP. BirdLife International is involved in a parallel role in Mt. Peko National Park and has been active designing initiatives on the Côte d'Ivoire side of Mt. Nimba and participating in the PCGAP consortium. The third NGO consortium member in Côte d'Ivoire is Conservation International (CI), which has its project base in Marahoué National Park. CI also has been involved since 1992 in Ghana, starting with the Central Region Natural Resource and Cultural Heritage Conservation Project and maintains offices in Accra and Cape Coast. WWF-Cameroon is now actively involved in efforts to survey and monitor wildlife populations in the Takamanda and Mone Forest Reserves, especially the critically endangered Cross River gorilla, and to upgrade the status of these reserves to that of national parks. Flora and Fauna International's project roster includes the upcoming Liberia forest assessment and Mt. Nimba (Guinea side) GEF project. Wetlands International has a regional office in Dakar, Senegal, and to date has had more intensive involvement west of Guinea (outside the Guinean Forest Hotspot), but is potentially a strong ally.
With only a few exceptions, the involvement of West African institutions of higher learning in conservation is best described as minor. Progress suffers for lack of available researchers, analysts, and facilities that can support baseline studies, periodic monitoring, and training. Nevertheless, with appropriate strengthening, this sector could be positioned to fortify the conservation community significantly.
One way to strengthen the capacity of West African universities to contribute to conservation efforts is to promote exchange and collaborative work with foreign universities that have been active in the region. There are several good examples of foreign university programs that have already established such collaborations or could do so. The University of Wageningen (Netherlands) and its ECOSYN Project has conducted a series of vegetation studies and botanical surveys in the Upper Guinea region. The University of Quebec (Canada) has initiated an environmental studies program at the University of Conakry, Ghana. Beaver College (United States) has established the Bioko Biodiversity Protection Program in collaboration with the Universidad Nacional de Guinea Equatorial, the focus of which is the long-term monitoring and ecological study of Bioko's endemic primates.
Likely national academic partners from West African countries to participate in future activities of this nature include:
||University of Ghana - Legon
University of Cape Coast
University of Science and Technology (Kumasi)
||Université de Cocody (Abidjan)
||Université de Conakry
||University of Liberia
||University of Sierra Leone (Freetown)
Many national research institutions in West Africa region are quasi-governmental entities affiliated with universities from which they remain distinct. Like universities, their capacities and infrastructure are severely constrained, but their missions and output could be strengthened as part of the effort to provide greater benefit to national conservation efforts. Many of these research institutions already participate in the development of national conservation strategies and contribute to impact assessments for development agencies. These research institutions are potential partners in regional biodiversity conservation efforts:
||Center for African Wetlands (regional), Legon
Center for Development Studies, Cape Coast
Remote Sensing Applications Unit, Legon
||Bureau National d'Etudes Techniques et de Développement
Centre de Recherche en Ecologie, Abidjan
Centre de Recherche Océanologique
Centre Suisse de Recherche Scientifique
||Centre de Recherche Scientifique de Conakry Rogbane
Centre National des Sciences Helieutiques de Boussoura
The private sector, in this context, includes businesses and companies whose profits are derived from the exploitation of natural resources through logging, mining, oil and gas, and fisheries, but which could contribute to biodiversity conservation by adopting environmentally and socially responsible practices - and by giving financial and logistical support to specific projects. Historically, private-sector support for conservation has not been strong in this region, however, the potential is considerable and early interest from companies such as Rio Tinto Mining and Exploration Ltd. is promising. Airlines, particularly British Airways, have also supported the conservation community with in-kind services and through the design of industry-selected "conservation travel" awards.
In developing this profile, root causes were considered, including: poverty; civil unrest and political instability, lack of national-level policies for conservation; and limited opportunities for education. More proximate threats include local community activities that are incompatible with biodiversity conservation, bushmeat hunting and lack of local awareness of conservation issues and biodiversity values. Given the small amount of money available through CEPF for this corridor, project designers had to make some choices regarding resource allocation. This project is fundamentally regional and transboundary in its approach. As such, it proposes to address some national-level root causes directly, such as policies for conservation. In other cases, it addresses more proximate-cause issues, such as implementation problems at the level of communities and municipalities. The communications component seeks to build a constituency for conservation at the national, regional and local levels. Recognizing that its resources are limited, the CEPF has always proposed to play a strategic coordination role and in so doing leverage considerably more resources in support of conservation than it could possibly bring to the table itself. In this spirit, the CEPF proposes to invest significantly in activities that will focus the many disparate efforts at work in this vast corridor while ensuring that the best and most objective information is available to shape decision-making by a broad range of actors. In this way, the CEPF expects to influence the root causes of biodiversity loss, albeit indirectly in some cases.
It has been determined that the most strategically compelling niche for the CEPF is to focus on filling the gaps between existing efforts and investments. For this reason, defining the mechanisms to ensure the proper coordination among existing efforts is a major component of each of the profiles.
It must also be understood that the set of CEPF objectives is not meant to resolve all of the threats described in the profile. The CEPF is one small element of much larger strategies in each ecosystem. Given the current levels of investment, the programs and strategies already in place and those anticipated, the CEPF strives to fill a particular niche that has yet to be addressed at the level required for positive impact. This niche, and the main objective of the CEPF, is to provide civil society, organizations, and individuals with the capacity to manage biodiversity conservation more effectively. The CEPF focuses on this group based on the hypothesis that sustainable biodiversity conservation will only be realized if civil society groups existing within the critical ecosystems drive the process. To extend the logic, if these groups become the actors and voices for biodiversity conservation, then decision-makers will begin to incorporate these issues into national and transboundary policies, legislation and action. Only if this impact is achieved will resources from the CEPF be able to realize sustainable biodiversity conservation.
The CEPF's current investment will focus on the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem of the Guinean Forest Hotspot, based on the expert consensus of the Conservation Priority-Setting Workshop. The Lower Guinea portion of the hotspot may become eligible for investment from CEPF in the future. For both CEPF and the CPW there are a variety of justifications to dividing this 11-country hotspot. First, as noted, there is a biogeographic separation of Upper and Lower Guinea by the dry zone known as the Dahomey Gap. Second, because the Guinean Forest Hotspot covers a culturally diverse and politically complex area, a narrow focus is more feasibly implemented than a broad agenda. However, there are some types of conservation action that will be best organized hotspot-wide and this investment strategy provides guidelines that encourage the exchange of lessons between Upper and Lower Guinea and sets in motion hotspot-wide coordination for long-term monitoring.
As noted, the CEPF investment strategy builds on recommendations of priority areas and actions that resulted from the CPW. In response to the threat of fragmentation in West Africa, a primary direction of the CEPF program there is to support connectivity. Fragmentation is not only ecological -it also characterizes the region's political, administrative, and social systems. Consequently, the CEPF seeks to establish connections not only among forest fragments, through either biophysical links or through standardized management approaches, but also among agencies that have not traditionally coordinated their activities across national borders and with regulations and policy instruments that would harmonize approaches to biodiversity conservation.
CEPF priorities will be to counter the most serious threats to biodiversity in this region, including:
The thematic foci of this investment will include:
- forest loss and fragmentation due to agricultural expansion, exploitative logging and rapid population growth;
- ecosystem degradation due to extractive practices such as mining and bushmeat hunting;
- limited local capacity for conservation due to insufficient professional human resources, minimal information, lack of regional mechanisms and limited cross-border collaboration; and
- institutional elements (policies, regulations, and practices) that undermine conservation effectiveness.
Institutional Strengthening, including capacity-building, training, and technical assistance, to help increase of protection for biodiversity by:
Development of Conservation Corridors, to expand the application of conservation practices in a variety of land-use contexts, including:
- supporting development of conservation professionals;
- strengthening protected-area management practices;
- commissioning biological surveys and other needed research;
- providing resources to analyze the feasibility of using financial incentives to promote biodiversity conservation;
- leveraging additional investment for conservation in West Africa; and
- strengthening policy instruments and intersectoral support for biodiversity conservation.
Increased Public Awareness to broaden support for, and understanding of, biodiversity conservation at local and national levels, including:
- agricultural landscapes;
- transfrontier areas;
- civil conflict zones; and
Hotspot/Regional Biodiversity Database establishment, to monitor and track conservation progress and challenges.
- value (cultural and social) and amenities of forests and protected areas;
- impact of bushmeat trade and unregulated hunting; and
- global significance of local resources.
In terms of research and management capacity, the Guinean region lacks expert botanists, wildlife ecologists, environmental educators, protected-area managers, and law enforcement officials. Through the CEPF, training in these related fields will be supported through participation in biological surveys and other field activities; resident programs based at existing and reserves; and scholarships for study at national and foreign institutions. Similarly, efforts to connect professionals through networks of scientists, academics, and area resource managers will be instrumental in reducing the tendency for each country's cadre of professionals to "reinvent the wheel" when addressing conservation challenges.
Innovative protected-area management programs, such as the one overseen by Conservation International at Ghana's Kakum National Park during the late 1990s, provide fine models and natural classrooms for national and regional professional training programs. In the case of Kakum, this includes a very successful ecotourism strategy that could benefit biodiversity conservation efforts at other national parks and nature reserves throughout the Guinean Forest Hotspot. The ecotourism aspect of such training could also attract partners and support from the private sector.
Along the border of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, vast cultivated areas have fragmented forests, and there is well-organized, but illegal, commercial surface mining and extraction of non-timber forest products within the region's system of forest reserves and protected areas. A critical need in this region is training in law enforcement, conservation education, and GIS and land-use management techniques to support biodiversity conservation.
While working with the scientific and conservation communities, efforts should also focus on training and employing an appropriate number of law enforcement officials (guards and rangers) for those same protected areas. This is one of the best ways to reduce threats to biodiversity within parks and reserves due to human encroachment and illegal extractive activities. Significantly increased law enforcement may be the most effective way to curtail bushmeat hunting, which should be halted within protected areas. A commitment to the enforcement of existing wildlife laws also presents an opportunity for the CEPF to leverage considerable funding from other sources, such as from the pool of multilateral and bilateral donors that are supporting Côte d'Ivoire's PCGAP.
The next step, and just as important, will be to develop approaches for long-term ecological monitoring of wildlife populations and ecosystem functions within existing protected areas. This initiative should build on professional expertise already in place and should increase the number of conservation professionals at work within the region's national protected area systems to an effective level.
As Côte d'Ivoire's PCGAP becomes operational, it will be necessary to bridge support for essential operations of the Ministry of Construction and Environment and the Directorate of Nature Conservation. To ensure that tens of millions of dollars of future funding from multilateral and bilateral sources are put to the best use, a relatively modest amount of CEPF funding could be used in the short term by civil society to support the efforts of the appropriate national partner agencies, especially those that focus on protected areas of the Krahn-Bassa/Sapo/Grebo/Taï-N'Zo Complex in southwestern Côte d'Ivoire.
Also in Côte d'Ivoire, as well as in Liberia, there is a trend toward involving NGOs (such as Côte d'Ivoire Nature and the Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia) in the management of national protected areas. CEPF support of such collaborations could add a new dimension and broader support to government programs that are currently under funded and understaffed. The resumption of management efforts in Liberia's Sapo National Park, following years of abandonment during the country's civil war, would be a good focal point for such support.
As noted earlier, there is inadequate information about biodiversity in the existing protected areas of the Guinean Forest Hotspot. Current data were assembled for the CPW, and the results reflect multiple geographic and thematic gaps. A series of surveys is needed to fill those gaps. Provisions for a number of these targeted surveys already exist in national inventory programs to be funded by multilateral and bilateral donors; such funding would reduce the need for, and would complement, CEPF support for this effort.
The CPW assessment acknowledged limited research capacity in most countries in the region. The institutions and experts involved recommended the integration of training, capacity building, and international teams in all survey work undertaken. Economies of scale, including bilingual efforts, are recommended in order to stimulate collaboration among colleagues in neighboring countries and to stimulate additional national-level efforts based on international projects.
Before surveys are conducted, a thorough investigation of previous information from these areas is in order. Targets will include:
During the CPW, participants were asked to rate priority areas according to research needs. The areas prioritized for further scientific research in three or more of the thematic groups (Mammals, Birds, Insects, Reptiles and Amphibians, Plants, Freshwater and Marine) are (as shown in Figs. 3 and 4):
- areas rated by the CPW as having significant needs for biological research;
- areas rated by the CPW as having high biological value;
- areas for which the generated information will have immediate practical bearing on priority management challenges; and
- areas in which biological assessments would be feasible, taking political stability into account.
Such inventories would provide the basis for an ongoing biodiversity monitoring network that would provide researchers and policy makers with access to constantly updated information in the form of an early warning system. Currently, the lack of reliable data precludes measurement of forest cover and biodiversity in the region. There is no established baseline from which to calculate change. With reliable data, threats to biodiversity will be more easily detected and mitigated. Additionally, biological research stations remain undeveloped in the region. Their roles -not only as sources of new information, but in maintaining a management presence in protected areas- merit attention and long-term financial support.
- A3 - Loma-Tingi Hills Complex (Birds, Insects and Freshwater)
- A4 - Scarvies Riverine Forest (Mammals, Plants, Marine)
- B8 - Gola/Ziama Complex (Birds, Insects, Plants)
- C2 - Eastern Liberian Moist Lowland Forest/Sapo National Park (Mammals, Insects, Plants)
Long-term funding for conservation is inadequate throughout the region. Funding opportunities in the region are limited and financial mechanisms to create conservation funds have not been adequately explored. Similarly, policy instruments to create incentives to conserve, or elimination of incentives that are barriers to biodiversity conservation, have rarely been analyzed or considered. Varying regulations between countries create a mosaic of management prescriptions that result in the region's fragmented approaches to ecosystem management, especially in shared watersheds.
The CEPF will seek to leverage a range of assessments of policy and regulatory instruments to evaluate their potential for resolving barriers to conservation. These include support to improve enforcement of laws, to strengthen regulations, to assess potential financing mechanisms and/or incentives that, where appropriate, can influence land use trends. In Ghana, the creation of the Ghana Heritage Conservation Trust has broken new ground in creating conservation funds that support protected areas. Similarly, efforts in Côte d'Ivoire to create a parastatal parks management agency that draws on international support for funding has led to re-examination of national policies and their modification to support biodiversity. While CEPF will not fund the capitalization of trust funds, nor will it provide resources for conservation set-asides, it will provide funds to evaluate the feasibility of such mechanisms. Private sector engagement will be sought as well in key corridors. Conservation International's new Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB) has already committed matching funds and expertise to assess the most strategic private sector conservation opportunities across the region and will provide technical assistance to engage corporations thought to have the greatest opportunities for investment.
Concurrent with the biological surveys would be the development of a regional biodiversity database, mostly archiving biological information regarding the existing national parks, nature reserves and wildlife sanctuaries. The database would also serve as a repository for information about Guinean forests currently unprotected, which is essential to the broader long-term biodiversity conservation goals for the region. This database project like the surveys, may need to be managed initially by foreign specialists, but it would provide employment and significant training opportunities for their West African counterparts.
Building an operational monitoring system to evaluate trends in the Upper Guinea Forest requires a multifaceted approach addressing biological systems, socioeconomic factors, and institutional capacities. First, a standard monitoring protocol is needed to make accurate measurements of indicators used to correlate relationships within the ecosystem. Identifying gaps in scientific efforts, and establishing geographic priorities for research, will help focus investment and incorporate the best scientific methodology available. Ideally, a network of institutions staffed with local biologists in each of the six West African countries will be developed to provide the necessary capacity to survey and monitor the status of critical species and habitats.
This strategy will be tailored to the specific national contexts, including institutional capacity, ecological and biological significance, and socioeconomic threats. Establishing a baseline of knowledge at a country level is required in order to implement the protocol. In addition to conducting surveys and developing a regional biodiversity database, CEPF support will be used to strengthen the reference libraries and information management systems of key national NGOs and to promote independent, longer-term ecological studies by West African biologists. This includes incorporating current museum collection records for each country's biodiversity into a database to retrieve information from past field surveys - a process that will enhance understanding of the biogeography of the region. Prioritizing areas within the region based on their biological characteristics will provide a rough map of the greatest concentrations of biodiversity and identify areas ripe for field surveys. These priorities will form a baseline of information from which to deduce changes and specific threats.
The last step in this process will be the actual collection and analysis of data specified as inputs into the monitoring strategy. Field data must be well documented, validated, and distributed in a logical package to all stakeholders. Additionally, data must be fed into a monitoring system that allows the evaluation of indicators both temporally and comparatively. Remotely sensed data will be a key input to the system, providing up-to-date information on the extent, condition, and integrity of the forest ecosystem. Two regional organizations are in the process of developing environmental information systems: the African Development Bank, based in Abidjan, developing a centralized knowledge and information system for all 40+ member countries; and ECOWAS, which has taken initial steps to develop an Environmental Monitoring Information System. These initiatives will help to disseminate and store data collected for the monitoring protocol, enhancing government's access to better information concerning biodiversity.
Intersectoral Initiatives For Biodiversity Conservation
Success factors are likely to reside as much in sectors and agencies outside of parks and wildlife departments as within them. Thus, CEPF initiatives that successfully integrate biodiversity concerns into other public or private sectors, such as forestry, agriculture, mining, tourism, governance, and development, will broaden conservation impact beyond its traditional and limited scope by expanding stewardship responsibilities and commitments. Such integration will be favored by partnerships that address overlapping areas of interest and responsibility. Recent integration of efforts by the forestry and wildlife sectors in Ghana is one example in which biodiversity assessments of forest reserves contribute to management plans. CEPF support for assessment of forest reserves in other countries in the region would actualize these links between institutions. Similarly, the cocoa sector in the region, especially in Ghana, is becoming cognizant of the nexus between agriculture and biodiversity, and efforts are needed to identify "win-win" solutions and incentives that integrate conservation considerations into agriculture.
The 41 priority areas identified during the CPW (Fig. 2) include fragmented forests and coastal ecosystems. Natural areas found within these priority sites emerge as key foci for place-based CEPF conservation projects and could ultimately function as core areas in larger corridors for protection of biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Of the intact forest remaining in the six-country region, the largest portion (43%) is believed to remain in Liberia. Côte d'Ivoire share is estimated at 28%, Ghana at 16%, Guinea at 8%, Sierra Leone at 5%, and Togo at 0% (though remnant patches still exist).
Of all 41 CPW priority areas, 25% occupy transfrontier lands. Overcoming political and administrative fragmentation, by developing collaborative efforts that focus on the biological and environmental resources shared throughout the Upper Guinea region, will prevent these critical areas from "falling through the cracks" in the region. International support for these key areas will be sought, especially from entities that have regional oversight and which join countries in forums that consider regional issues such as African Development Bank and ECOWAS.
The three largest forest complexes in the region can be viewed as clusters of priority areas, and illustrate comprehensive conservation initiatives in the region. They include the Gola/Lofa/Mano complex of Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Krahn-Bassa/Sapo/Grebo/Taï complex of Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, and the fragmented forêts classées and forest reserves of eastern Côte d'Ivoire and western Ghana respectively. On a coarse scale, these three clusters range across a west-east continuum of threats dominated by conflict, logging, and agricultural expansion. Each cluster reflects the challenges that would be faced in any of the priority areas they comprise.
Cluster 1: Sierra Leone-Liberia
The Gola/Lofa/Mano Complex represents a mix of lowland forests on the Sierra Leone and Liberia border (A2). This priority area represents the westernmost extent of many plant and animal communities within the Upper Guinea forest ecosystem. Though poorly studied and largely inaccessible by researchers and conservationists in recent years, the area still contains large tracts of contiguous forest for the potential establishment of core-protected areas. These include the Gola Forest Reserves in Sierra Leone and the Lofa-Mano National Forests in Liberia, each of which could be upgraded to National Parks or Strict Nature Reserves. The contiguous nature of these cross-border forests also presents opportunities for transfrontier conservation initiatives between the two countries.
Both the Liberian and Sierra Leonean portions of this complex have experienced a high degree of civil conflict over the past ten years. The highly porous border between Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea to the north has allowed several groups of competing factions to move freely between countries. Since the end of the civil war in Liberia, there are indications of increased settlement, shifting agriculture, hunting and general human disturbance along with the resumption of full-scale logging activities. Furthermore, violence has again flared up in the Liberian portion of this complex and continues to displace local peoples in some areas and to increase pressure from refugees in others. Persistent civil unrest in the Sierra Leone portion of the complex continues to cause tension among government, rebels, and international intervention efforts providing peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance.
Choosing from a range of priority needs for the Gola/Lofa/Mano complex, CPW participants placed an emphasis on first undertaking a rapid biological assessment and, second, updating scientific knowledge, notably the capacity for remote sensing in the area. Furthermore, regional experts noted, "Collaboration with the respective governments of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia is important, with the aim of incorporating management strategies into national conservation action plans."
Cluster 2: Liberia-Côte d'Ivoire
The Krahn-Bassa/Sapo/Grebo/Taï complex contains the largest tract of contiguous forest left in the entire Upper Guinea ecosystem and represents the greatest opportunity to establish and maintain protected areas containing large intact stands of forest. Most of the forests in eastern Liberia (C1-C4) emerged as extremely high regional priority sites and include prospective core areas like Sapo National Park, Krahn-Bassa National Forest, and the Grebo National Forest. Taï National Park (C6) in Cote d'Ivoire is the single largest existing forest protected by a national park in the region and offers a potentially good opportunity for transfrontier conservation along the Liberian border.
In the Liberian portion of the complex (C1, C4, C2, and C3), a range of new disturbances is underway within forest areas believed to be mostly intact. After the civil war, scientists working in the region in 1997 observed little disturbance to areas of forest not formally exploited for timber. In fact, observations indicated that in many areas wildlife had made a comeback during the war. However, since 1998, human settlement, farming, and hunting have steadily advanced into the forest. Such activities have generally followed a pathway opened up by a new Malaysian timber operation that built a major highway into the remaining forest clusters. The operation currently extracts an estimated 50,000-80,000 cubic meters of timber per month, which could destroy the remaining forest blocks in less than five years. Lack of enforcement of existing forestry legislation reflects the limited capacity of the Liberian Forest Development Authority and inadequate environmental governance in general. Scientists participating in the CPW documented the primary threats to the forest ecosystem as timber extraction, road construction, and increased human settlement, which leads to a higher intensity of farming and hunting. Recommended interventions include updating scientific knowledge, conducting biological surveys, building capacity within the forest development authority, and reassessing the protected area network. Major stakeholders in this region include the Oriental Timber Company, the Liberian Forest Development Authority, the Society for Conservation of Nature in Liberia, and a diverse array of local communities from several ethnic groups.
The Ivorian side of the complex (C7, C6, C5) has, by contrast, a host of threats affecting biodiversity. Industrial plantations of cocoa, rubber and palm have increased pressure on the surrounding landscape by drawing in workers who supplement their wages by farming in adjacent forests. Furthermore, human pressure, intensified by the arrival of thousands of Liberian refugees during the 1990s, has continued along the border region. The growing population has increased demand for bushmeat and small-farmer agricultural production. Low-level gold mining also occurs in this area, which threatens to increase erosion and siltation of aquatic systems. Experts at the CPW recommended several specific interventions for the Ivorian side of the complex:
Cluster 3: Côte d'Ivoire-Ghana
- taking an inventory of unknown areas to the northwest of Taï National Park on both sides of the Cavally River;
- measuring the impact of conservation activities on wildlife using Taï National Park as a reference point;
- developing a transnational approach to conservation to harmonize wildlife management;
- developing regional tourism as an alternative income source; and
- investigating the potential for upgrading the protection status of the region's protected areas.
This complex includes a large number of forest reserves in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana. The 10 priority sites in this complex are largely contiguous, providing an opportunity for landscape approaches to conservation that could incorporate existing forest fragments as "core" areas. The existing landscape contains wet evergreen, moist evergreen, and moist semi-deciduous vegetation zones. Several national parks - Bia, Ankasa and Kakum - contain remnant wildlife populations of species typical of the eastern Upper Guinea (i.e. the area east of the Bandama River, Côte d'Ivoire). Sadly, this is the first region to have recorded the extinction of a large mammal, with the recent report of the apparent disappearance of Miss Waldron's red colobus. Until the mid-1970s, this subspecies of red colobus was known in a few localities within this region.
Threats documented by scientists at the Conservation Priority-Setting Workshop include vast areas of cash/food crop cultivation resulting in forest fragmentation, well-organized illegal extraction of non-timber forest products, timber extraction, and commercial-scale surface mining. Recommended responses include training in law enforcement, conservation education, and GIS and land-use management. Experts recommended that long-term conservation strategies for the region include ecological monitoring, community participation, conservation education, land-use management, and rapid assessments and biological inventories.
Fragmentation of landscapes inhibits or alters flows of genetic materials, water, and wind. It also isolates small populations and places biological resources in the fragments at greater risk. Furthermore, fragmentation can lead to piecemeal interventions for conservation when more extensive landscape approaches may be more effective. Corridor feasibility, function and establishment have not been appropriately explored in the region as a means to counteract fragmentation. However, CPW priority areas, especially in clusters, offer opportunities for landscape management and regional planning.
Corridor strategies in these areas, coordinating the integration of multiple sectors and using protected areas as anchors, will be promoted under CEPF as part of CPW follow-up and implementation. The range of activities for corridor development includes biological surveys, aerial photography and remote sensing imagery analyzed in GIS packages, multi-agency planning, enterprise development, and community outreach and awareness. Whether corridors become physical presences in the landscape, or whether they are conceptual patterns that broaden management approaches to include transfrontier efforts or cross-border watersheds, they can serve as valuable units for protecting biological and other natural resources on the ground. Multisector initiatives will also be instrumental in leveraging investments from multiple donors to corridors. Corridor coordination will also be linked clearly with the Hotspot Biodiversity Monitoring System.
Initiatives developed at the local level are essential to the success of larger-scale national and regional conservation programs. These are most often created as collaborations between communities and NGOs. CEPF grants will be directed to such collaborations to support environmental education programs, appropriate agroforestry extension services, the replacement of slash-and-burn agricultural techniques with cash-crop production, ecotourism guide training, and other employment opportunities that biodiversity conservation programs may generate. In the process, CEPF will also be sensitive to the institutional needs of the NGOs involved, and will be prepared to help sustain their continued participation in regional efforts.
Awareness campaigns will also be supported at the national level within countries whose forests constitute the Guinean Forest Hotspot. Broadened impact will result from projects that successfully increase biodiversity awareness among potential partners, decision-makers and the general public. Campaigns to educate consumers about impact of the bushmeat trade, and to inform the judiciary of wildlife laws and regulations, will contribute to efforts to reduce the impact of unregulated hunting. Conservation International's Center for Applied Biodiversity Sciences (CABS) has supported a regional bushmeat assessment workshop and will contribute to a national campaign in Ghana on the subject. The bushmeat trade is a problem requiring a multi-pronged, extensive strategy. Since this is such an important challenge, CEPF resources will focus on supporting additional initiatives, led by CABS and others, to reduce the bushmeat trade, rather than mobilizing to combat the threat independently.
There is a growing trend in Ghana and Guinea for local communities to become involved in conservation planning. CEPF support for such grassroots activities would be most appropriate in communities surrounding existing protected areas based on a model employed by Conservation International at Kakum National Park in Ghana. Kakum has been the site of innovative programs in revenue-sharing, community outreach, enterprise development, agroforestry, and environmental education, all of which can be replicated throughout the region.
There is an urgent need for conservation education in communities that surround forest reserves along the border of Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, a region that is currently being ravaged by over-exploitation of forest resources. Education programs would be linked to biological surveys aimed at upgrading protection levels in extractive reserves.
In order to respond to unforeseen circumstances that affect biodiversity conservation, and to facilitate inter-institutional coordination and small-scale capacity building, it is recommended that CEPF provide resources to establish a Biodiversity Action Fund. Small grants from the Biodiversity Action Fund will range in size but no single grant will exceed US$10,000.
The CEPF Investment Strategy will be funded over a period of three years and represents the beginning of a larger process to bring about sustainable biodiversity conservation within the region. It is therefore important to highlight the sustainability of the CEPF strategy beyond the initial three-year funding period. There are three key elements to the sustainability of these objectives; the first, already noted, is a tremendous current level of investment within the region by several multilateral and bilateral organizations, government agencies, and international and local NGOs. In order to build on this, the CEPF plans to encourage sustainability by building local capacities, the second key element of sustainability. Much of the implementation of biodiversity conservation efforts is currently done by outside organizations and the focus of CEPF is to build local capacities to take over much of this role and for these civil society groups to take the lead on conservation efforts. Capacity alone, however, may not be sufficient. Financial resources for biodiversity conservation will remain a critical issue for sustainability. For this, through cultivation of partnerships and alliances, the CEPF hopes to leverage new funding for biodiversity conservation. This is the third element of sustainability. It is expected that quality results from CEPF projects will generate increased interest and confidence in the donor community leading to increased investment. The combination of local capacity and increased overall funding, together with current levels of investment in the region, should lead to greater biodiversity conservation impacts that can be sustained for a long time to come.
While the overall sustainability hypothesis is logical and sound, there will be much to learn from each individual CEPF grant project. Accordingly, all project proposals will include a section in which external risk factors and long-term sustainability issues will be addressed. Projects will be required to highlight key external factors that might reduce the benefits of their activities and discuss plans to mitigate these. Applicants will also explain how they see the objectives of their specific projects carrying forward after the initial CEPF funding period. All of this will be shared on the CEPF Web site, allowing other project teams to learn from successful risk mitigation strategies and sustainability measures put in place by various projects. To continue this process after the initial project design phase, grantees will revisit these issues in each of their quarterly project performance reports. The purpose is not only to highlight risk and sustainability at the outset, but also to track these critical issues throughout the life of each project.
The CEPF investment strategy for West Africa builds on priority areas and actions identified during the Conservation Priority-Setting Workshop held in Elmina, Ghana, in 1999. Consensus recommendations from the 140 participants created a blueprint for conservation investment in the region that addresses the most pressing threats to the forests and coastal zones of the six-country area. Drawing on the expertise of conservationists, biologists, ecologists, economists, sociologists, and planners, the CPW examined biological criteria within a socioeconomic context. By highlighting biological diversity and species endemism against a backdrop of threats to their continued existence, CPW results point to the most important sites for conservation and the issues that must be confronted to conserve them: lack of institutional and human capacity, destructive land-use practices, limited conservation awareness, underdeveloped environmental processes, and weak governance.
By stepping beyond a set of recommendations that is exclusively biological, the CPW results illustrate the broad approach that must be taken among institutions and sectors if natural environments are to be conserved in West Africa. For environments to function properly, supporting a full complement of species and providing a wide range of goods and service, multiple roles and initiatives must converge in new ways. That convergence is already beginning, with similar goals and needs assessments appearing independently within the strategies of a wide range of donor agencies, NGOs, and governments. Linking these varied convergences of mission with specific actions in the region through the collaborative work of alliances is the primary focus of CEPF.
CEPF is intended to provide a rapid response to conservation needs, to complement initiatives already underway, and to stimulate wider participation in conservation in West Africa. Immediate actions now to "hold the line" on the biodiversity crisis, stabilize protection, and to begin building alliances to rescue the hotspot will establish a positive trend toward the long-term vision of ecosystem health and stability in a region eager for solutions.
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