- West Africa’s first REDD+ project
- Protects the largest area of rainforest in Sierra Leone, and 60 globally threatened species
- Promotes sustainable development and livelihood activities for 122 forest edge communities (~24,000 people) in the world’s 8th poorest country
The Gola Rainforest is a catalyst for peace, prosperity, and national pride in Sierra Leone. It conserves globally important habitats in the 70,000-hectare Gola Rainforest National Park and Greater Gola Landscape, the largest remaining area of Upper Guinea rainforest in Sierra Leone. It is a biodiversity hotspot and is home to thousands of bird, butterfly, plant, and mammal species, including chimpanzees, forest elephants, and the enigmatic pygmy hippo.
Leading the way towards a sustainably managed landscape spanning Liberia and Sierra Leone of over 350,000 ha, the project ensures that communities are active stewards of the forests that maintain and enhance their lives.
A hundred years ago, more than half of Sierra Leone was covered with rainforest; now, only around 5% remains. The Greater Gola Landscape is a mosaic of protected and community forests and agricultural lands. To fulfill its potential as an ecosystem, the community and agricultural lands need to be managed to ensure the integrity of the forest, so that it contributes to erosion prevention, water supply, and crop pollination. The Gola project works with 122 forest-edge communities to accomplish this.
Gola has trained 122 master farmers who each work with two youth farmers to run field schools for sustainable cocoa agriculture; nearly 2,000 have now registered and are receiving training to improve cocoa quality and yields. The project has also delivered training to address gender imbalances that impede women’s ability to own assets, control finances, and participate in activities and as community leaders. It directly employs 150 locals and provides 700 scholarships for secondary education every year.
Gola will prevent the emissions of 4.4 million tonnes of CO2 over the first 10 years of its 30-year lifetime, validated and verified under the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS). It has also achieved CCB Gold status for exceptional climate and biodiversity benefits.
In addition to 300 bird species, close to 600 butterfly species, and 2,800 plant species, the project protects critical habitat for countless threatened animals, such as the pygmy hippopotamus, western chimpanzee, Jentink’s duiker, African forest elephant, white-necked picathartes, rufous fishing-owl, and the critically endangered Tai toad.