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EditPhoto Title:Creating a Culture of Conservation in Sierra Leone
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EditImage Url:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_75858352.JPG
EditImage Description:Scenes of Tiwai Island in Sierra Leone, the work-site of CEPF grantee the Environmental Foundation for Africa.
EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Dan Rothberg
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After a decade of war, Sierra Leone's natural resources faced a number of threats, including deforestation, mining and hunting — and ongoing tensions, poverty and post-conflict recovery further hindered conservation efforts. ​​


On the Moa River, i​n the country's southeastern province, sits Tiwai Island. The lush rainforests of this 12-square-kilometer island boast one of the world’s highest concentration of primates and is also home to a population of pygmy hippopotamus and more than 135 bird species. With urging from researchers and the Barri and Koya people, Tiwai Island was designated as a wildlife sanctuary in 1987. But when civil war broke out in the country in 1991, financial support for the wildlife sanctuary dwindled.



Our role

When the war ended in 2002, a local nonprofit, the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA), launched the first steps on the road to recovery: a three-year project to restore Tiwai Island which would serve as a model for protected area management and community development. To guard against further environmental damage and help nearby communities recover, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) provided funding and support as part of its strategy for the Guinean Forests of West Africa biodiversity hotspot. CEPF’s investment — which added up to US$ 850,000 in six grants over a decade — was aimed at restoring the once-teeming forests of Tiwai Island, while at the same time creating a national culture of conservation and strengthening EFA as a regional conservation leader.

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    Edit Item Title:Build new facilities
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    Edit Item Text:Together with local communities, EFA constructed facilities for scientific research and a visitor center on Tiwai Island. Up to 30 visitors at a time can stay in tents surrounded by an evergreen forest with the sounds of hornbills and monkeys calling from the canopies, and the reconstructed research center can house up to 10 researchers.
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    Edit Item Title:Train local communities and raise awareness
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    Edit Item Text:To increase income-earning opportunities, community members received literacy programs and skills training — including in weaving, gara tie-dying, bamboo crafts and furniture making. They were also trained in practical techniques for nature conservation, domestic energy conservation and agroforestry. Environmental awareness programs were implemented in schools and the eight surrounding communities, and video documentaries will be used to raise awareness among a wide range of audiences, nationally and internationally.
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    Edit Item Title:Ensure effective management
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    Edit Item Text:CEPF and EFA continued to work together after completion of the initial project in 2005 to ensure effective and sustainable management of the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary through the establishment of the Tiwai Island Administrative Committee Secretariat. In 2009, CEPF awarded EFA a grant to conduct further work in ecotourism and sustainable community development in and around Tiwai Island. Agreements with local communities will help minimize possibilities for illegal activities, including the hunting of monkeys.
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    Edit Item Title:Support EFA’s conservation leadership
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    Edit Item Text:With CEPF's support, EFA has grown into a regional conservation leader — with more staff, more programs, more donors and more impact on Tiwai Island and throughout the Guinean Forests of West Africa biodiversity hotspot. EFA founded and chairs the Environmental Forum for Action, a network of 14 “green actors” across Sierra Leone launched with a small grant from CEPF. In 2014, EFA opened a Biodiversity and Renewable Energy Learning Center in a forest preserve near Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. The center will be “a place where people fall in love with nature” and then work to protect it, according to EFA founding director Tommy Garnett.
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    EditQuote Text (Do not add quotation marks):For us, [CEPF’s support] was an opportunity to demonstrate that African organizations have the capacity to deliver, given the right kind of partnership arrangements.
    EditQuote Attribution:Tommy Garnett, Environmental Foundation for Africa founding director
    Hear more from Tommy in Voices of CEPF
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    EditImage Alt Text:Scenes of Tiwai Island in Sierra Leone, the work-site of CEPF grantee the Environmental Foundation for Africa.
    EditTitle:By the numbers
    EditSubtitle:50 kilometers of trails
    EditText:Guided river tours offer an opportunity to view Tiwai and its surrounding islands from a canoe or motorboat, and more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) of trails allow visitors to immerse themselves in the island’s forests. Walking tours are led by local experts who share information about the ecology, mythology and traditional cultural activities on and around Tiwai Island.
    EditPhoto Credit:© Conservation International/photo by Dan Rothberg
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      EditCarousel title: Tommy Garnett, Environmental Foundation for Africa
      EditCarousel description: Tommy Garnett, regional director of the Environmental Foundation for Africa and native Sierra Leonean, reflects on his conservation work, his organization's involvement with CEPF and where he envisions conservation and development heading in the future.
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      More of Our Work Links

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      First Image

      EditTitle:Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund
      EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_79671305.JPG
      EditLink:/projects/pages/critical-ecosystem-partnership-fund.aspx
      EditImage Alt Text:Balachandra Hegde with his daughter by Aghanashini Valley. © CI/Photo by Jack Tordoff

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      EditTitle:Funding Conservation
      EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_45219781.jpg
      EditLink:/how/pages/funding-conservation.aspx
      EditImage Alt Text:Kayapo mother with children. © Cristina Mittermeier

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      EditTitle:Partnering with Communities
      EditImage:/SiteCollectionImages/ci_20109105.jpg
      EditLink:/how/pages/partnering-with-communities.aspx
      EditImage Alt Text:Women sell traditional crafts, Konashen Community-Owned Conservation Area in the Konashen Indigenous District, Southern Guyana. © Piotr Naskrecki