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Supporting conservation of the Gola Rainforest with ClimateCare

14 June 2019

We’re pleased to be working with our long-term partner ClimateCare to support conservation projects in the Gola Rainforest.

We work closely with ClimateCare as part of our commitment to offset our carbon emissions.

Through their high impact environmental projects, we are able to balance out the impact of our operational carbon emissions and fulfil our beyond carbon neutral goals.

Our carbon offsetting helps the Gola Rainforest Partnership to deliver projects that preserve and protect Sierra Leone’s only rainforest national park and the biodiversity within it, as well as improving the livelihoods of local communities.

How we’re protecting some of the world’s most threatened forest

The Gola Rainforest is host to a wealth of different plants, animals and insects.

Until the end of the 19th Century, the rainforest stretched over Sierra Leone, Liberia, South East Guinea, Southern Ivory Coast and South West Ghana.

Today, less than a fifth of this rainforest still stands, endangering the habitats and the lives of the local plants and wildlife and having a negative impact on the environment.

This rate of deforestation could not continue, and in 2011, the Gola Rainforest National Park was established. The project worked with communities and local government to help keep the 70,000 hectare park and its’ surrounding areas properly protected.

The project looks to support both environmental and social concerns. The countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia have been subject to a decade of civil war, and in more recent times, the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded.

The project aims to rebuild the lives of those affected by these tragedies, and with that, help restore the habitats of some 60 threatened species.

Preserving biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variety of plants and wildlife that live in a particular habitat. Habitats across the world, be that forests, deserts or the oceans have different levels of biodiversity.

Why is biodiversity important?

Habitats that are rich in biodiversity are more productive. Each species within the habitat has an important role to play, and many species depend on another species to survive. The more diverse the habitat, the more sustainable it is for its’ inhabitants.

The Gola Rainforest is one of only three forested biodiversity hotspots in Africa. It’s made up of protected areas, community forests and agricultural land, all of which provide habitats for the vast array of species that live there.

The Gola rainforest is home to:

  • 1 critically endangered species
  • 8 endangered species
  • 9 species of mammals, including the Pygmy Hippopotamus, Western Chimpanzee and African forest elephant
  • 327 species of bird
  • 31 species of fish
  • Over 600 species of butterfly
  • 2,800 species of plant, 650 of which only grow in this rainforest
  • 43 amphibian species

Without the protection and preservation of these habitats, this wildlife may disappear altogether.

Helping local communities prosper

Sierra Leone is one of the world’s least developed countries, ranking at number 179 out of 188 on the Human Development Index. The communities that surround the rainforest are dependent on it for their survival.

The Gola Partnership, which includes conservation charities, the Government of Sierra Leone and the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, works closely with these communities to help them recover and make the most of the natural environment.

Together, they’ve established 35 farmer field schools that have helped local farmers to improve their crop yields to great success, with ground nut yields increasing by 80% within a year. They’ve also set up 42 gender-inclusive cocoa farmer groups with 1,500 registered cocoa farmers.

It’s not just farming communities that are benefitting from carbon funds. Over 600 secondary school scholarships have been awarded to families who would not normally be able to afford to send their children to school. Investing in the future generations is vital to the success of the area.

ClimateCare care for more than just rainforests

The Gola Rainforest is just one ClimateCare project that The Co-operative Bank has supported through our carbon offsetting programme. So far this year, our carbon offsetting has helped conserve 213 hectares of rainforest.

We’ve helped them with their campaign to provide efficient Gyapa cooking stoves to over 4.1 million people in Ghana, saving more than $84m in fuel costs and generating 2m tonnes of CO2 emission savings.

As a direct result of our carbon offsetting programme, in 2018 we were able to bring clean drinking water to 3,873 people in Kenya through the LifeStraw filters project. The project has delivered over 4.3 million litres of clean water to those who need it.

Our support for these projects is a vital part of our Ethical Policy commitment to reducing our impact on the environment.

A partnership to be proud of

ClimateCare’s work as part of the Gola Partnership has long-term benefits, not just for the environment, but for people, animals and plants of Sierra Leone.

We are proud to support ClimateCare with their mission to protect and preserve the Gola Rainforest.

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