The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which supports civil society to participate in and benefit from conserving some of the world’s most critical ecosystems, has had a long partnership with the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA). As part of CEPF’s initial five-year investment of $6.2 million in the Guinean Forests of West Africa biodiversity hotspot, CEPF supported EFA beginning in 2002 with a grant for its project, “Reconstruction for Biodiversity Conservation, Research, and Ecotourism in the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sierra Leone.” The purpose of the project was to help Tiwai Island, which has remarkable biodiversity, and nearby communities recover from over a decade of war and neglect.
Completed in 2005, the project achievements included reconstruction of a visitor camp and research station and resumption of biological research on Tiwai Island, implementation of an environmental awareness program in schools and the eight surrounding communities, and training of local communities in nature conservation, domestic energy conservation and agro-forestry.
CEPF and EFA continued to work together after completion of the initial project, with CEPF supporting the following EFA projects:
Stimulating a Coordinated and Informed Approach to Biodiversity Conservation in Sierra Leone through Capacity Building of EFA and the Forum for Environmental Action (July 2004 – March 2006)
Forum was established and recognized by government of Sierra Leone. The forum also has become a leading member of the Green Actors of West Africa Network involving 10 countries. The project also established an Environmental Information Resource Centre at the EFQ headquarters in Sierra Leone, and organized the first national conference to examine key priorities for biodiversity conservation and environmental protection as outline in the National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan.
Ensuring Effective and Sustainable Management of the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Sierra Leone, through the Establishment of the Tiwai Island Administrative Committee Secretariat February (2004 – July 2004)
The Secretariat was established to serve as the implementing agency of the Tiwai Island Administrative Committee, the entity responsible for managing the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary.
Assessing Five Years of CEPF Investment in the Guinean Forests of West Africa (January 2006 – April 2006)
EFA organized a workshop with CEPF grantees and other partners in the region to assess the results of CEPF investments and identify collective lessons learned.
In January 2009, the Environmental Foundation for Africa was awarded a consolidation grant from CEPF to secure the gains made possible by the first phase of CEPF funding by conducting further work in ecotourism and sustainable community development in and around the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Activities from this phase of funding included establishment of a Biodiversity and Alternative Energy Learning Center in Sierra Leone, and the construction of a range of buildings in Tiwai’s surrounding “host” communities, including schools, guest houses and community centers.
Tiwai Island now houses a camp where visitors can stay in tents, surrounded by an evergreen forest with the sounds of hornbills and monkeys calling from the canopies. Guided river tours offer an opportunity to view Tiwai and its surrounding islands from a canoe or motorboat, and more than 50 kilometers of trails allow visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s forests. Walking tours are led by local experts able to share information about the ecology, mythology and traditional cultural activities on and around Tiwai Island.
The consolidation grant, completed in June 2012, also resulted in:
- Instruction to local community members on weaving, gara tie-dying, bamboo crafts and furniture making.
- Memorandums of understanding signed with local communities to minimize possibilities for the illegal activities on Tiwai, especially hunting of monkey.
- The collection of pictorial data and video footage for the production of video documentaries that will be used for awareness raising among a wide range of audiences, nationally and internationally.