The eagle-eyed among you will immediately notice that there haven’t been any blogs from the Rainforest team for more than three years. For this we can only apologise! After the brief suspension of activities in Gola during the Ebola outbreak that started in 2014, our work resumed in full in the summer of 2015 and the team has been busy getting back on track ever since.

Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing the latest developments and newest streams of our Rainforest work with you, but for now, here’s a little taster of some of the exciting activities that we have been developing in Gola.

Candid Camera

The field team have been working hard as ever using a variety of techniques to monitor all the different species in Gola. Camera traps are proving a particularly useful tool in the dense forest habitat.

 

This chimpanzee certainly isn't camera-shy!

Through funding from our partners at Zoo Basel, we have been able to invest in more cameras which this year will be used to establish the areas of forest most important for those ever-elusive pygmy hippos.

 

Focusing on Forest Communities

The GolaMA project in Liberia has been progressing nicely, working with the Government and local communities to sustainably manage community forest areas in ways that not only enhance their value for biodiversity but also help improve the wellbeing of the people who rely on the forest for their livelihoods.

'Lead Beekeeper' from the GolaMA project with one of his beehives.

This project is now complemented by the USAID funded WABiCC (West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change) project, which is working across both Liberia and Sierra Leone. The WABiCC project is also looking at forest friendly ways of improving community livelihoods. This approach simultaneously benefits communities, supports biodiversity, and increases forest cover in the remaining unprotected forest areas in the Greater Gola Landscape.

 

Going Green with Gola Cocoa

One of the priority livelihoods projects has been cocoa farming. Cocoa is a commodity that can be grown sustainably within the existing forest habitat, thus providing valuable income for farmers without the need for clearing forest. A ‘Green Cocoa’ feasibility assessment is currently underway in Liberia, and in Sierra Leone the Gola Cocoa Project is already well under development with almost 40 tonnes of forest-friendly ‘Gola Rainforest Cocoa’ having already been sold into the international market.

Gola cocoa farmers showing off their cocoa pods

The RSPB has also purchased some of the cocoa and we will be launching our own Gola Rainforest Cocoa chocolate bars in early 2019! Keep an eye on our blogs for the launch and where to buy so you don’t miss your chance to taste this special chocolate, that protects forests and empowers people, for yourself.

Gola Rainforest Chocolate Samples

 

Landscape-scale conservation in action

With all the projects combined, the Gola partnerships in Sierra Leone and Liberia are now working collaboratively to protect neighbouring blocks of forest habitat amounting to around 400,000ha in area.

Greater Gola Landscape project areas

 

There’s so much more as well, from ground-breaking research on the Gola malimbe and white-necked picathartes, to Gola Rainforest National Park becoming the first certified REDD+ project in West Africa, showing Sierra Leone’s commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

We are looking forward to sharing all our stories with you, so watch this space! And don’t forget you can follow Gola Rainforest on Twitter @golarainforest.

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