The European Union is providing € 5.5 million to Sierra Leone and Liberia to establish a new Trans-boundary Peace Park and to save the last intact rainforests in the Upper Guinea Area.
The vast Upper Guinean Rainforest, which once covered large parts of coastal West Africa between Togo and Sierra Leone, is one of the world's priority areas for biodiversity conservation due to the large variety of native species and its key ecological function. Centuries of human activity have, however, led to a loss of 70% of the original forest cover. The remaining 420 000 km² are highly fragmented, habitats are isolated and species unique to the forest are threatened.
The EU is supporting Sierra Leone and Liberia in their joint action to protect the last intact areas of rainforest in the Upper Guinea Area and to promote peace and security in the cross-border Mano River region. The joint ‘Trans-boundary Peace Park’ project, officially launched in May 2009 by the President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, and the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, aims to secure the long-term conservation of the rain forest, its biodiversity and global carbon storage benefits and to contribute to improved cross-border forest governance between Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The Trans-boundary Peace Park unites the Gola Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone (75 000 ha) and the Lofa and Foya Forest Reserves in Liberia (80 000 ha and 100 000 ha respectively).
The rainforest provides important ecological services for the entire West African region: climatic conditions favourable for agricultural production (e.g. cocoa/coffee), continuous provision of water, protection against soil erosion, mitigation of climate change, and provision of wood and non-wood forest products to the local population.
- Establishment of effective project management (new Gola Forest project management office), monitoring and assessment of areas for strategic forest and wildlife corridors.
- Strengthened forest governance, management capacity of government, civil society organisations and local communities for cross-border conservation.
- Enforcement of policies ensuring implementation of forest law governance and trade action plan.
- Investigation and, when possible, establishment of mechanisms of carbon trading and sustainable financing options. EC contribution:
The project is being implemented by the Sierra Leone Forestry Division, the Liberia Forest Development Authority, the Sierra Leone Conservation Society, the Liberia Society for the Conservation of Nature, BirdLife International and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (UK).