"Empowering Youth and protect tropical rain forest"
Project: Project for Youth Empowerment and the Sustainable Management of the Western Area Peninsula Forest
Duration: 2006 to date
Supported by: UNDP
The Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve (WAPFR) is part of the Freetown Peninsula, a narrow chain of undulating hills approximately 37 km long and 14 km wide, reaching a peak of 900 m. It is the only remaining patch of tropical rain forest along the coast of Sierra Leone. The vegetation is mostly closed canopy, lowland evergreen forest.
The rate of deforestation and land degradation of the area is alarming. The major threats to the reserve are including illegal farming practices, hunting, wood cutting, illegal logging, stone mining and urban settlement expansion. Fuel wood collection and charcoal burning accounts for 50% and 47% respectively according to a research conducted in 2004 by the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL).
The WAPF is rich in biodiversity and is of international importance. It serves as habitat to globally threatened species including the endemic toad Cardioglossus aureolli and the white-breasted picarthetics. It is a gazetted reserve forest of Sierra Leone, yet it has been severely degraded due to encroachment for the construction of permanent settlements, shifting cultivation, illegal logging, charcoal burning and firewood harvesting.
The social importance of the WAPF is significantly increased by the fact that its continued existence is vital for the protection of water catchments areas and the supply of clean pipe borne water for Freetown and its environs.
The WAPF is surrounded by rural communities whose economic and social activities are intimately tied to forest resources. Moreover, majority of the land area is owned by the state although few agricultural lands are now held by few individual freeholds, which can be inherited, bought or sold.
Many landless inhabitants live around the WAPF and most of them are jobless, majority being the youth. Exploitation of the forest resources is primarily done to provide alternative means of livelihood and not just to be destructive.
Unfortunately, the non-regulatory manner in which these survival ventures are undertaken, threatens the survival of the fauna and flora, the forest supports and lowers the potential of other socio-ecological services it provides.
Green Scenery works with Community Based Youth Groups living in proximity to the forest. The community lives by the coast and depends on fishing for livelihood. Fish smoking accounts for large consumption of firewood, the bulk of which is obtained from the forest.
Nursery and silvicultural practices
Capacity Building in organic manure production
Agro-forestry practice on 30 acres of land
Tree planting for alternative source of fire wood
Capacity Building in natural resource management
Training in project and financial management
Construction of bakery and support to bread production as alternative source of income
The group continues to function and producing at least USD 400-500 worth of bread every month. The farm of 600 cashew nut trees are doing very well and the fast growing Acacia trees are now nearing harvest period. The group is now operating a bank account.
Please help to protect the environment. Support the Youth group with your donation. Thank you!