Sierra Leone Re-Enforces its Dedication to the Efficient Administration of the Sherbro River Estuary – West Africa Biodiversity and Local weather Change (WA BiCC)

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By Darius Barrolle, Senior Communications Specialist


After 4 years of tireless efforts by the Nationwide Protected Areas Authority (NPAA) of Sierra Leone and the USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Local weather Change (WA BiCC) program to strengthen native establishments for improved administration of coastal Sierra Leone’s huge marine ecosystems, the Sherbro River Estuary (SRE) Co-Administration Plan has been reviewed and permitted by all stakeholders. Moreover, a petition by native communities to formally designate the SRE as a Ramsar Website (Wetland of Worldwide Significance) was offered to authorities authorities for onward submission to the Ramsar Secretariat to think about for itemizing.

The SRE panorama, which incorporates the Bonthe-Sherbro Island, runs alongside the southeastern coast of the nation. The estuary sprawls 80 km and expands from 3 m huge upstream to six km the place it meets the Atlantic Ocean. With an estimated space of 284,000 ha (2,840 km2), it’s roughly three and a half instances the dimensions of the nation’s capital, Freetown. The estuary is one in all Sierra Leone’s 4 present marine protected areas, comprising quite a lot of habitats that provide super alternatives to help human livelihoods in addition to human and plant variety. The dominant mangrove forests and intensive mud and sand flats help a number of sea turtle species, together with olive ridleys, leatherbacks and loggerheads. Crocodiles, monitor lizards, mambas and water snakes additionally thrive there. The Rhizophora racemosa (pink mangrove species) is the pioneer mangrove species within the estuary and might attain as much as 40 m excessive.

Map of Sherbro River Estuary. Photo Credit: WA BiCC
Map of Sherbro River Estuary. Credit score: WA BiCC


The estuary’s mangroves play a significant position in meals safety and financial development by offering breeding grounds for fish and plenty of different marine species. Agriculture, crop farming and animal husbandry are the three main sectors of the estuary’s financial system; nonetheless, the fishery sector can also be of nice significance and employs 43% of the inhabitants.

Coastal communities exporting fish for sale. Photo Credit: WA BiCC
Coastal communities exporting fish on the market. Photograph Credit score: WA BiCC


The wealthy biodiversity of the SRE faces vital threats. Roughly 8% of the mangroves within the area have been misplaced since 1990 due partially to mangrove slicing for firewood and development functions. As well as, the biodiversity of the area is threatened by habitat destruction, the gathering of sea turtle eggs and different endangered species merchandise, land use change because of agriculture encroachment, settlement growth, looking, and the overexploitation of fishery assets. Local weather change impacts, together with droughts and coastal erosion and flooding because of elevated storm surges, exacerbate these threats.

Mangroves used for fuel wood. Photo Credit: WA BiCC
Mangroves used for gasoline wooden. Photograph Credit score: WA BiCC


Since 2016, WA BiCC has been working within the Sierra Leone Coastal Panorama Complicated that contains the SRE, Sierra Leone River Estuary, Scarcies River Estuary and Yawri Bay. This system’s interventions began with a vulnerability evaluation and an evaluation of choices to deal with local weather change points and different stressors, which offered the idea for the event of the SRE Co-Administration Plan. Actions that help Village Saving and Mortgage Associations (VSLAs), restore degraded mangrove areas and lift consciousness about biodiversity conservation, together with by way of the radio drama sequence Watasay Ston, had been additionally carried out as a way of mainstreaming local weather change adaptation and mitigation within the panorama. Governance buildings involving nationwide and native stakeholders had been additionally established and strengthened, together with the SRE Co-Administration Committee, to make sure joint and concerted implementation of the plan.

Participatory land use mapping with community members. Photo Credit: WA BiCC
Participatory land use mapping with group members. Photograph Credit score: WA BiCC


Historical past was made in Bo, Sierra Leone, when native leaders and the nationwide authorities got here collectively September 22–25, 2020, for the ultimate stakeholder evaluate and approval of the co-management plan, demonstrating their dedication to work collectively to implement this important instrument. The designation of the SRE as a Wetland of Worldwide Significance (Ramsar Website) was an equally necessary final result of this occasion.

Yatta Kamara H. Kamara-Katta, Wetlands Manager, NPAA, signing the co-management plan.
Yatta H. Kamara-Katta, Wetlands Supervisor, NPAA, signing the co-management plan.


In his opening assertion, Papa Pwe, Paramount Chief of the Bagruwa Chiefdom and an SRE Advisory Board Consultant, mentioned, “Our communities have been prone to a sequence of local weather change-related impacts on livelihoods and biodiversity. The intervention of WA BiCC has been a sound alternative to rework our data, attitudes and practices in direction of biodiversity conservation and local weather change points.”

The 4-day periods attracted 50 contributors, together with high-level dignitaries, of which 20% had been girls. This course of culminated within the signing of the SRE Co-Administration Settlement by the communities and the NPAA.

The SRE Co-Administration Plan was developed by WA BiCC on the request of, and in shut collaboration with, the NPAA and native stakeholders from 10 chiefdoms to make sure inclusive sustainable administration of the SRE for the conservation of biodiversity and to strengthen resilience to local weather change impacts throughout the panorama. It was developed by way of quite a few stakeholder consultations in collaboration with native and nationwide authorities establishments, and it marks the primary time {that a} marine and coastal panorama in Sierra Leone benefited from an inclusive, participatory, and stepwise course of. It now supplies the idea for the NPAA’s submission of the Ramsar itemizing software to the Ramsar Secretariat for the popularity of the SRE as a Wetland of Worldwide Significance. A key advice made by contributors was to increase the Ramsar Website designation to different coastal landscapes in Sierra Leone.

The Ministry of Native Authorities and Rural Improvement consultant, Sulaiman T. Jalloh, mentioned, “I have to guarantee you that my ministry will collaborate with the co-management committee, by way of the Paramount Chiefs and different native authorities, to completely implement all bylaws that will probably be established for the safety of the biodiversity throughout the SRE.”

Joseph Musa, NPAA Exectutive Director, closed the occasion by reflecting on the necessity for all stakeholders to stay dedicated to defending the SRE, “I kindly attraction to everybody to do all they will for the success of this initiative. I think about it as a courageous begin in guaranteeing that the Sherbro River Estuary is an eco-tourism web site.”

Joseph Musa, NPAA Executive Director, signing the signing the co-management plan. Photo Credit: WA BiCC
Joseph Musa, NPAA Government Director, signing the co-management plan. Photograph Credit score: WA BiCC



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