Tying together biological information from survey and lessons learned from our pilot projects on alternative livelihoods, CI aims to identify priority conservation areas and shape a longer-term strategy for sustainable development and a green economy in Equatorial Guinea.
The Republic of Equatorial Guinea (EG) is small in size: with its mainland section and several islands spread out in the Gulf of Guinea, the entire country is only as big as the state of Maryland. But despite its small size, EG is home to the fourth highest primate species richness in all of Africa and a breathtaking array of biodiversity representing many threatened and endangered species.
These include the central chimpanzee, western lowland gorilla, mandrill, Bioko Island drill, leopard, golden cat, forest elephant, African manatee, long-snouted crocodile, Goliath frog, red river hog, grey-necked rockfowl, four species of sea turtle – two of which are critically endangered – and the Pennant’s red colobus, one of the 25 most rare primate species in the world. People in EG are culturally connected to the forest; with rural poverty still widespread, many continue to depend on forest ecosystem services such as bushmeat for nutrition and income.
IN PHOTOS: The Battle over Bushmeat
Fueled by the discovery of offshore oil in the 1990s, EG has been undergoing rapid changes in recent years. On the one hand, logging has decreased, providing some relief to wildlife. However, there has been an increase in bushmeat hunting due to the oil boom, and many species are becoming rare as a consequence of overhunting.
In addition, the country has experienced rapid infrastructure development, including new roads that are cutting through protected areas. Conservation International (CI) is working on several fronts to address the threats and needs faced by wildlife and people in EG and to assist the government in its efforts to diversify the economy with sustainable alternatives to oil by 2020.
Targeting climate security and the value of standing forests, CI delivered capacity-building on climate change and REDD+ for 50 representatives of government and civil society and CI is currently guiding the development of a national REDD+ strategy. CI is working to address the links between ecosystem services and human health and food security, particularly those related to rural dependence on bushmeat for protein and income.
REDD+: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation "plus" conservation, the sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks
Together with EG’s main national conservation NGO, ANDEGE (Amigos de la Naturaleza y del Desarrollo de Guinea Ecuatorial), CI introduced alternative livelihood projects to key communities around Monte Alén National Park and a proposed National Forest. CI plans to expand upon these pilot projects in additional sites with conservation agreements that provide participants with clear incentives for conservation that benefit both biodiversity and human livelihoods. With tourism still in its initial phases, CI is working with local and international stakeholders to pioneer the development of sustainable nature-based tourism in EG.
CI continues to highlight the value of species conservation to ecosystem services and human well-being. As landscape lead agency of the Alén – Monts de Cristal landscape (EG and Gabon), CI manages the US Government’s investment in scientific research, conservation, education and policy in the most biodiversity-rich landscape in Central Africa. CI is involved in groundbreaking research, collecting data on the distribution and status of apes and elephants and providing support to a survey on the distribution, status and threat of top predators and a range of other species across mainland EG.
Tying together biological information from these surveys and data and lessons learned from our pilot projects on alternative livelihoods, CI aims to identify priority conservation areas and shape a longer-term strategy for sustainable development and a green economy in EG. In doing so, CI will continue to push boundaries in conservation and development and will demonstrate that everyone can benefit when innovative approaches are designed and implemented to meet the needs of humans and nature.