Deforestation of tropical forests accounts for 12% of all anthropogenic carbon emissions, the second largest contributor behind fossil fuel combustion (van der Werf et al. 2009). Deforestation in tropical regions is also known to be a reliable predictor of bird extinction risk (Brooks et al. 1997) and the impacts of both deforestation and climate change are thought to be especially prevalent in humid tropical forests (Asner et al. 2010).
The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (BirdLife in Sierra Leone) is working with the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) to reduce the pressures of deforestation and agriculture on the Gola Rainforest National Park, which supports over 330 bird species. The national park holds strong populations of several threatened species (Klop et al. 2008) and the park alongside adjacent forests are the largest remaining areas of Upper Guinea Tropical Forest in Sierra Leone, and are known as a global biodiversity hotspot (Myers et al. 2000).
The REDD+ initiative being implemented in the area aims to conserve forest, reduce carbon emissions and provide livelihoods for local 122 communities. Through offering incentives and encouraging sustainable development to communities, logging will be reduced and forest conservation will help threatened species such as the endangered Gola Malimbe Malimbus ballmanni and vulnerable Nimba Flycatcher Melaenornis annamarulae (Klop et al. 2008) as well as conserve ~ 5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent during the first 10 years of the project.
This case study is taken from ‘The Messengers: What birds tell us about threats from climate change and solutions for nature and people’. To download the report in full click here.
Asner, G. P., Loarie, S. R. and Heyder, U. (2010) Combined effects of climate and land-use change on the future of humid tropical forests. Conserv. Lett. 3: 395–403.
Brooks, T. M., Pimm, S. L. and Collar, N. J. (1997) Deforestation Predicts the Number of Threatened Birds in Insular Southeast Asia. Conserv. Biol. 11: 382–394.
Klop, E., Lindsell, J. A. and Siaka, A. M. (2010) The birds of Gola Forest and Tiwai Island, Sierra Leone. Malimbus 32: 33–58.
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B. and Kent, J. (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853–858.
van der Werf, G. R., Morton, D. C., DeFries, R. S., Olivier, J. G. J., Kasibhatla, P. S., Jackson, R. B., Collatz, G. J. and Randerson, J. T. (2009) CO2 emissions from forest loss. Nature Geosci. 2: 737–738.
BirdLife International (2015)
Protecting rainforest in Sierra Leone: How reducing emissions and benefiting park management.
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