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Sierra Leone News: New project of the Conservation Society aims to end hunting, logging at Kambui Hills Forest Reserve

The inception meeting in Kenema

The inception meeting in Kenema

The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone held an inception meeting in Kenema with the Forestry Division and the National Protected Area Authority to introduce a new program for community-based forest management at Kambui Hills Forest Reserve.
The meeting was attended by local authorities such as paramount chiefs, mammy queens and youth leaders.
The program was launched by the Jensen Foundation, Birdlife International and the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, a national non-profit, non-governmental organization, which is based in Freetown and is committed to the conservation of wildlife and wise use of natural resources.
The new program attempts to protect the forest and biodiversity of the Kambui Hills Forest Reserve, a remaining fraction of the Upper Guinean Forest that is located in the Eastern Province. The reserve has a northern (20,348 ha) and a southern part (880 ha), which are divided by the road leading to Kenema.
“We will pilot the project in Kambui Hills South, but we hope to extend it to Kambui Hills North”, said Mohamen Carankay, Project Manager in Kenema. “Several important bird and biodiversity areas have already been discovered in the area, and we believe that we will find more.“ Important bird and biodiversity areas (IBA’s) are priority sites for bird conservation, because they regularly hold populations of threatened, endemic or congregatory bird species, or highly representative bird assemblages.
According to Papani Bai-Sesay, Biodiversity Officer at the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone “the forest is also home to many different mammals such as chimpanzees, monkeys, and duikers. Bai-Sesay added that “it also supports catchment areas for several reservoirs that supply water to Kenema and the surrounding communities.” Despite its status as a forest reserve, in which human activity is supposed to be controlled, logging poses a serious threat. ”Settlements expand from Kenema into the forest. The pressure from hunting is also high.”
“In the meeting we presented the program and asked for the concerns and expectations of the participants”, said Sheku Kamara, Executive Director of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone. “These will be evaluated in a next step so that we can adjust the program according to the participant’s input”.
The program aims at conducting baseline studies in a first step to examine the biodiversity of the area. After this initial phase, communities are expected to take responsibility for the protection of the forest. “We will identify the key drivers of deforestation and hunting and develop sustainable livelihoods together with the communities”, said Kamara.
The meeting was chaired by PC Alameen Kanneh, paramount chief of the Koya Chiefdom, one of the five chiefdoms that border Kambui Hills South. In his opening statement at the meeting he remarked that “it has been the wish of the stakeholders of Kambui Hills forest that the reserve is protected because of it’s economic and cultural significance.” He emphasized that the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, Birdlife International, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and the Jensen Foundation have brought the project to the Kambui Hills for the benefit of the people and the country.
Ademola Ajagbe, head of the Conservation Division for Africa, was pleased with the inception. “The meeting has shown that the people are ready to work with the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone to improve the protection of Kambui Hills forest and its wildlife.” Ajagbe added that “Birdlife International does not concentrate it’s operations on the protection of birds only, but to every aspect of ecosystems.”
Kambui Hills Forest Reserve has great potential for ecotourism. The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone is building an ecolodge with support of Bird Life International in Bayama, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year. From the lodge a trail leads to a view-point for White-necked Picathartes, a bird species found in Western Africa that depends on rocky jungle habitat. The populations of this bird species are threatened by habitat destruction.
Thursday July 13, 2017.

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