CSSL successfully implements WA BiCC project

By Abu Bakarr Kargbo

CSSL Staff and key partners…committed to protect the environment  

The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) in collaboration with other project implementers has organized a meeting to generate and document lessons learned from the just concluded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) project. The all-important event was held on Tuesday 30th June 2020 at the Hill Valley Hotel in Freetown. The lessons and key recommendations are expected to be shared with donors and relevant institutions in Sierra Leone and abroad for future similar project implementation.

As its mission is to promote the wise use and conservation of Sierra Leone’s natural resources so that wildlife and people benefit, CSSL completed the WA BiCC USAID sponsored project, which seeks to sustain the protection of National Parks in the Mano River Union basin. The project is implemented in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and some parts of Cote d’Ivoire. The Gola Landscape covers an area of 350, 000 hectares that saddle Sierra Leone and Liberia, and the landscape represents the largest remaining block of the Upper Guinea Forest and is of global conservation importance. The biodiversity hotspot encompasses the Gola Forest National Park and the proposed Foya Protected Area in Liberia. 

Dr. Sheku Kamara, CSSL’s Executive Director, in his introductory statement, stated that his organization has helped to protect animals and the forest the Gola Forest that runs between Sierra Leone and the neighboring countries. He acknowledged the good initiative of the WA BiCC project implemented for over three years and the reform management it has created in the lives of community people for the organization to be able to implement some of its aims and objectives.

Francis Massaquoi, Head of Gola Forest National Park informed the gathering that the organization has created views for the people around the Gola Forest Community to have trust in the process of protecting forests within boundaries. He added that despite the decline of forest sizes and habitats connectivity and international boundaries, but through the WA BiCC Project it has created one mindset on how to go about in managing the situation. Mr. Massaquio further mentioned that they have engaged over two thousand farmers and hundreds of Gola students on the transformation process and taking good care of the forests.

Henry David Bayoh, Planning and Development Officer of the National Tourism Board said that the forest is been depicted in such a way it has affected the tourism sector. This would have created greater challenges should forests have not been conserved. Mr. Bayoh also said that the Board wants to promote Eco-Tourism that will further enhance development in the country.

Komba Kanneh, Project Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of CSSL, noted that his organization enhances agricultural production and other sustainable livelihood activities that contribute to improving the well-being of people. He added that at least 2000 people have improved capacity for global climate change and biodiversity conservation, and a good number of people have actively and directly engaged in protection communication campaigns.

Moses Zombo, CSSL’s Project National Coordinator, speaking on some of the lesson learned in community forestry intervention, listed five major community Forest pilot sites and areas in which the organization covers, which are the Barri- Naiati Island which contains about 625 acres, Koya- Lukweh Island which also has about 68 acres, Caura- Gaya Yeyei 2,045 acres, Makpele- Naflador Forest 198 acres and Tunkia Bunumbu Forest 252 acres. He pointed out that the organization has about three (3) Interim Community Forest Management Committees (ICFMC) formed in three (3) chiefdoms in the country including five (5) mapped and boundaries temporarily delimited. Mr. Zombo revealed that there were a lot of challenges encountered in consensus build, with several interest groups and community that involves a very huge amount of skills in the management of people and ideas.

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