Sierra Leone Biodiversity Conservation Project (BCP) is a five years project with funds coming from the Global Environment Fund (GEF), World Bank (WB) and Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL), through the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS).It became effective in January 2010 with new closing date of 30 November 2015.
The overall objective of this project is to assist GoSL in improving the management of selected priority biodiversity conservation sites and in enhancing its capacity for replication of best biodiversity conservation practices. The Project has three main components:
- Strengthening of the National Framework for Biodiversity Conservation;
- Conservation Site Planning and Management;
- Project Management, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Anticipated outcomes include:
(a) Management effectiveness in selected priority conservation sites supported by the Project has improved by 20 percent;
(b) Phased plan for replication of best practices in CS management throughout Sierra Leone adopted by MAFFS.
Project activities are piloted at three terrestrial conservation sites: Outamba-Kilimi National Park (112,825 ha) in Bombali district, Loma Mountain National Park (33,200ha) in Koinadugu district, and Kangari Hills Non-huniting Forest Reserve (8573ha) in Bo and Tonkolili district
Some Key achievements to date
The Management Effectiveness Tracking Tool (METT)
METT has been developed to help track and monitor progress in the achievement of the World Bank/WWF Alliance worldwide protected area management effectiveness and is being used by the Global Environment Facility
The Management effectiveness Tracking Tool data reveals increasing management effectiveness since the baseline data in 2011.
Staff Deployment and Training of Field Staff
A total of 49 staff were deployed all over the three conservation sites, and recently an additional staff strength of 50 staffs have been recruited by NPAA to increase the staff strength
An assessment of assigned Forest Guards and Rangers’ knowledge and competence in wildlife and conservation management revealed an urgent need to train these forestry officers in the use of tools and equipment applied in forest conservation and research such as GPS, compass, map reading, use of camera traps and digital cameras as well as species identification.
Since the onset of the project a number of skill-trainings have been organized for the field staffs with lots of on the job field exercise to enable staff to use the materials appropriately.
The training has been focused on the following four main elements: (i) forest patrolling, (ii) systematic camera trap based biodiversity monitoring, (iii) periodical habitat research along fixed transects (iv) monitor forest extent through periodical satellite imagine based assessment on human encroachment.
With staff deployment, more effective law enforcement is ongoing. Arrest has been made and some defaulters warned and others prosecuted.
The construction of office infrastructure and ranger post at OKNP and KHFR are now in their advanced state and at different levels of completion.Moreover, the uncompleted office and ranger post infrastructure under the Bumbuna Offset project has been approved and work is progressing well
Major Field and office equipment supplied to these sites includes 4WD Vehicles, motor bikes, computers, generators, GPS, digital Cameras, camera traps to name but a few.
Management of wildlife in protected areas require reliable scientific information on the abundance, distribution and population trend of wildlife as well as the type of threats facing the management of the area. This involves data collection and we are constantly training staff to increase their ability to gather reliable data in a more consistent way. Based on the ability of our staff which was low at the start of the project, the project management team employed a simple but most appropriate method to collect data using the available staff skills and strength. Key species like elephant whose dung are distinctive and chimpanzee whose nest can be easily identified with high level of confidence are among species selected for monitoring. Human activities are also part of it, such as logging, hunting evidence like snares and empty cartridges etc are included in patrol data monitoring. The intended objectives are primarily to document the presence and distribution of wildlife in the PA and to find out intensity and spread of human activities that are affecting the management of the PA. The data collected will be put into a database which can provide information for the management of the PA.
Development and implementation of Management and community action plan
A socio-economic assessment was carried out to obtained data that will help inform the project to develop communication action plan that will support practical livelihood activities as identified by forest edge communities.
After effective consultation of local and ministry stakeholders, management plan has been developed for each of the conservation site.
Both the Management plan and socio-economic data were an integral part of community action plan
Setting up the GIS unit
The GIS unit now has computers, ArcGIS software, and A0 plotter for the production of thematic maps. Furthermore, Landsat imagery has been procured for all three sites and vegetation analysis is on-going. There is an on-going GPS field data collection training and population of database from data collected from the field.
Forestry Law review
Previous reports have indicated that the Forestry Act of 1988 and Wildlife Conservation Act of 1972 are out dated and cannot provide a framework to adequately support biodiversity conservation and protected area management especially to address contemporary and emerging issues. As a result, the BCP together with the WCP aims to review this national document to reflect the current day issues.
Despite the delay, the law review process has finally kicked-off and a contract has now been signed with a national legal consulting firm, headed by Rowland S V Wright, Barrister and Solicitor.The consulting firm has produced draft Wetlands Conservation Act and Wildlife Conservation Act to be disclosed at the national consultative meeting that was delay as a consequence of the Ebola public health emergency declared by HE the president
The community Action Plan (CAP) identify the type of activities desired by the community people that can be supported to improve their livelihood. These activities on the one handwill help to minimise deforestation and also generate income that will raise their standard of living
Key agricultural planting materials provided were, pineapple suckers, cashew nuts, groundnut, inland valley swamp rice, and cassava cuttings.
The support to the farmers started with training programs which were led by facilitators. The farmers were exposed to various planting techniques to compare different cultivation techniques through the establishment of Famer Field Schools. Moreover, the farmers were provided with planting materials of both tree and non tree crops
Farmers at OKNP in an exchange tour were linked to Flex Juice Factory which is providing ready market with even transport facilities to farmers growing pineapple farm