BATS | STEWARD | Okavango River Basin | Burundi | Congo Basin | Ethiopia | Ghana | Guinea |
Gulf of Guinea | Kenya | Liberia | Madagascar | Mali | Mozambique | Namibia | Nigeria | Senegal |
Sierra Leone | South Africa | Tanzania | Virunga Mountains | Zambezi | African Leadership Seminar
USAID and the US Forest Service are global leaders in developing and supporting regional and transboundary conservation initiatives. The Upper Guinea ecosystem of West Africa is a high priority globally for biodiversity conservation and is of strategic importance in terms of peace building, extractive industries and other important commodities such as rubber, cocoa and oil palm. USAID and the US Forest Service have already made significant investments in biodiversity and community-based natural resource management in Liberia, Guinea, Ghana and Sierra Leone. STEWARD, a joint investment of EGAT, AFR, USAID/West Africa and US Forest Service, is an opportunity to produce a more coherent regional program that will address regional threats to biodiversity as well as capitalize on regional opportunities to spread best practices, harmonize policies and improve regional markets.
The Upper Guinea ecosystem covers an area of about 420,000 km 2, extending from southern Guinea into Sierra Leone, through Liberia and southern Côte d’Ivoire, into Ghana and western Togo. Forest cover has been reduced to less than 25% of the region and critical biodiversity is threatened by extreme habitat fragmentation and land degradation. Remaining natural forest fragments, including globally important protected areas, are islands in a sea of subsistence and commercial agriculture, land uses also crucial to both local and national economies. Commercial and artisanal timber exploitation continues, legally and illegally, together with artisanal mining that attracts migrants into forest areas and fuels consumption and commercialization of bushmeat. As regional and national conflicts are resolved, the investment climate is improving and industrial extractive industry is returning to harvest the region’s substantial renewable and non-renewable natural resources. The region’s fisheries are being depleted by foreign fleets, returning virtually no value to people in these countries. Investment is pouring in from China and other countries while the region struggles to rebuild institutions and policy frameworks. These forces necessitate an integrated approach for balancing conservation needs with livelihood and development priorities.
STEWARD will focus on key regional concerns: 1) harmonizing forest, wildlife and conservation policies to mitigate illegal movement and unsustainable use of natural resources; 2) promoting improved markets and management for high value tree crops that provide benefits to smallholders and help governments diversify extractive-industry based economies; 3) developing a regional presence in global fora for conservation, sustainable development and trade; 4) assisting the region to more effectively manage and capitalize on influxes of investment and trade in natural resources; 5) developing regional strategies for coastal and fisheries management, and (6) accelerating the flow of knowledge and experiences about best practices.
A regional scale initiative in the Upper Guinea ecosystem will promote the transfer of knowledge and lessons among the countries. For example, in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, lessons are being learned about cocoa production in relation to natural forest conservation. Guinea has pioneered community forestry in the region. Other West African countries are advanced in approaches to natural regeneration of degraded lands and in decentralized natural resource management.
Program Objectives and Sample Activities
Build capacity for increased regional collaboration in biodiversity conservation, fisheries, forestry, sustainable agriculture and trade within national and regional institutions
Foster regional policy innovations and harmonization of national policies for improved ecosystem conservation and NRM
Pilot transboundary conservation and natural resource management activities at selected sites
Start up activities may include:
- A regional biodiversity threats and opportunities assessment (co-funded with the AFR/Biodiversity and Technical Support TO) which may also comprise:
- An analysis of private sector investment in natural resources and impact of investments on natural resources including an assessment of potential private sector partnerships for conservation and sustainable natural resource management (NRM) at regional level
- A regional stakeholder analysis to assess partner and donor priorities and needs
- Capacity building of and support to strategic subregional institutions and partners for regional exchanges and strategic planning.
- Support to partners’ activities in a portfolio of pilot sites representing different ecosystems and situations in transboundary conservation areas.
- Support for a network of local partners to engage in research, information dissemination and action on the bushmeat trade.
- Support to a web-based Community-of-Practice, controlled from the subregion, to allow decision makers and practitioners to exchange information and experiences on common issues and concerns.
Note: All STEWARD activities harmonize with USAID’s biodiversity code
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