Guinea and Liberia Forge Historic Partnership for the Conservation of the Ziama-Wonegizi-Wologizi Forest Landscape

Guinea and Liberia Forge Historic Partnership for the  Conservation of the Ziama-Wonegizi-Wologizi Forest Landscape
December 3, 2019 1:49 pm News

The Ziama-Wonegizi-Wologizi (ZWW) forest complex, shared by Guinea and Liberia, is home to more than 25% of Africa’s mammals. Nearly 90% of its native vegetation has been lost, however, because of unsustainable human activities. To sustainably manage this globally unique refuge of plant and animal biodiversity and essential ecosystem services such as water, the governments of Guinea and Liberia signed a bilateral agreement and an operational protocol. This marked an unprecedented step toward collaboration for the long-term well-being of the forest, its rich natural resources, and local communities.

ZWW is one of the seven priority Transboundary Biodiversity Hotspots in West Africa. Within its approximately 257,000 hectares, surveys have documented 712 plant species, 401 butterfly species, 289 bird species, and over 28 mammal species, including forest elephants, eight primates, two carnivores, 14 ungulates and three pangolins. Many of these animals are recognized as vulnerable and endangered, including the western chimpanzee, pygmy hippo, forest elephant, king leopard and giant ground pangolin. Threatened plants include Makore (Thieghmela heckelii), African breadfruit (Treculia Africana), Salacia columna, Calichyllia subsessilis and Maesobotria sparsiflora.

A view of the forest and mountain.
The Wonegizi mountain range and its surrounding forest—all a part of the Ziama-Wonegizi-Wologizi forest complex—is home to many threatened animal and plant species.


The devastating loss of native forest vegetation in ZWW and its resulting threat to animals stems from an array of drivers, including agricultural expansion, unsustainable and often illegal logging, hunting and trade of bushmeat, industrial and artisanal mining, industrial development, climate change and pollution. Many of these activities are linked, directly or indirectly, to poverty, political instability, conflict, poor governance, unsustainable natural resource management, and the lack of dedicated human and financial resources.

The signing of the bilateral agreement and operational protocol by Guinean and Liberian officials demonstrates their governments’ commitment to the sustainable management of the forest. The documents were signed on October 24, 2019, in Conakry, Guinea, and witnessed by nearly 50 participants from both countries. This joint effort builds on momentum that began in October 2018. In just 13 months, the agreement and protocol went through a full participatory process that included several consultations and reviews before being validated and finalized.

USAID’s West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) Program has supported this bilateral effort since the initial agreement that these two policy instruments were essential to guide cooperation and collaboration. Its grantee partner, Fauna and Flora International, is engaging local people to better understand the value of the forest and its protection and has already garnered the support of 60 neighbouring communities. An example of this is the youth eco-guard program, which trains young people to patrol the forest, combat illegal activities, monitor biodiversity, and perform outreach for awareness-raising. Another example is the Elephant Football Club of Ziama, created to raise awareness around conserving the ZWW. Farmers have also been engaged through the Farmer Field School, where they receive training using demonstration plots on cultivation methods that reduce the need to clear new areas of forests to plant crops.

The Guinea and Liberia partnership, bolstered by WA BiCC’s support on the ground, will propel collaborative management for stronger forest governance, enhanced law enforcement, reduced deforestation, and the restoration of degraded forest lands for the benefit of people and nature in both countries.

Related Documents