Guinea has a wealth of biodiversity with dense humid forests in the south-east and dry forests in the north. However, due to the increased human pressure, including illegal poaching, grass fires, urbanization and exploitation of forests, the Guinean government has been experiencing rapid forest degradation. Environmental security was included as one of five priorities in the 2010 Security Sector Reform (RSS) process. However, lack of human and financial resources and low level community engagement impeded the government’s efforts.
The European Union partnered with UNOPS to continue its commitment to protect biodiversity in Guinea by supporting the environment component of the Third Security Sector Reform Support Programme (PARSS3).
Throughout this four-year, € 5.7 million EU funded project, the capacities of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Forest (MEEF) and the Paramilitary Corps of Nature Conservation (CPCN) will be strengthened.
Some of the biggest challenges in the consolidation and nationwide extension of the CPCN is insufficient equipment and material and lack of capacities.
“We did not have any means of transport at all to carry out patrols inside the park when we arrived here. Some of us even contributed our own resources and purchased a few motorcycles, but the quality and the quantity acquired were far from enough”, says Mamady Komara, a conservation agent at the Badiar National Park.
As part of the project, 1,800 conservation agents and 80 officers are receiving technical training. So far, 114 conservators have acquired a degree in bush fire fighting techniques and 45 CITES control officers received training on the role and functions of CITES. Twenty members of the Guinea National CITES Committee also received training on the wildlife code and hunting regulations.
We did not have any means of transport at all to carry out patrols inside the park when we arrived here. Some of us even contributed our own resources and purchased a few motorcycles, but the quality and the quantity acquired were far from enough.
Mamady Komara, conservation agent at the Badiar National Park
By 2022, more than 1,800 conservation agents will receive training to reinforce their technical capacity on anti-poaching. This knowledge will help agents carry out their duties in more efficient and effective ways in the coming years.
Engaging local communities is also an important component of the project.
A recurring challenge is convincing local communities on the value of protecting the environment. People who live on the fringes of these forests depend on the firewood, bush meat, fodder and small timber to support their way of life. Resources found in the forest help people generate an income.
Supporting the rangers' protection work often means that these communities have to change deep-set habits, find new ways to make a livelihood and even move further away from the forests' edge. The rangers play a vital role in bringing about this change.
Raising awareness about preserving nature with radio broadcasting and exploring sustainable ways to generate income while reducing pressure on the environment, such as pig farming and vegetable growing are key to bring positive change.