Pirang Forest Park

Year of compilation: 2001

Site description
Pirang is a fenced, isolated patch of forest 45 km from Banjul on the southern edge of the Gambia River, less than a kilometre from the riverbank. It is, after Abuko (GM001), the second-largest fragment of semi-evergreen forest in the country. It is surrounded on three sides by cropland and fallow and, on the northern side, by Avicennia mangrove. The forest is in a shallow depression such that the water-table is close to the surface for much of the year. Half of the site is closed-canopy forest, 25 to 35 m high, in which the dominant canopy species are Elais guineensis, Ficus pseudomangifera, Dialium guineense, Pseudospondias microcarpa and Parinari excelsa. The remainder of the forest has been partly cleared and has an abundance of lianas. Paths run through the site to link the nearby villages of Pirang and Bonto, whose populations are permitted to gather local products and dead wood for fuel from the forest.

Key biodiversity
See Box and Table 2 for species. Pirang is relatively well studied ornithologically, and holds the second-richest assemblage in the country of species characteristic of the Guinea–Congo Forests biome. New forest species continue to be discovered, including breeding Sarothrura pulchra in 1991 and Illadopsis puveli, for which this is the only Gambian site, in 1993. Other characteristic forest species with nationally important populations here include Tauraco persa, Bleda canicapilla, Sylvietta virens and Spermophaga haematina. There is a nationally significant roost of Balearica pavonina just outside the forest park. In addition, one species of the Sudan–Guinea Savanna biome occurs; see Table 2.

Non-bird biodiversity: Mammals of global conservation concern include Procolobus badius temminckii (EN).

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The forest was formerly revered as a home of benign spirits and protected by the belief that the felling of trees would bring bad luck. However, these beliefs declined and, in the early 1980s, the villagers of Pirang decided to clear the forest to create a mango plantation. The Gambian-German Forestry Project (GGFP) and the German Embassy intervened persuading the villagers to create a plantation elsewhere while the Forestry Department gave the site legal protection, recently gazetted , as a forest park with a prohibition on grazing, felling and burning. The forest is now fenced and managed by the Forestry Department with some technical assistance from the GGFP. The villagers appear to support this plan, though the forest must remain under some threat as the local population and its need for timber grow and as there is currently no financial benefit to the villagers from its protection.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pirang Forest Park. Downloaded from on 25/09/2022.