Protecting Nature's Hotspots for people and prosperity

Guinean Forests of West Africa

Tab 1

Sierra Leone women dancers performing in the Guinean Forest Hotspot
Sierra Leone - women dancers performing. © Conservation International/photo by Nina Marshall

The Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot is one of eight biodiversity hotspots in Africa and Madagascar and covers 621,705 km2 divided into two subregions:
  • The ‘Upper Guinean Forests’ stretching from Guinea, through Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and, marginally, into Benin. 
  • The ‘Lower Guinean Forests’ covering much of southern Nigeria, extends into Cameroon, and also includes São Tomé and Príncipe and the offshore islands of Equatorial Guinea. 
The Guinean Forests support impressive levels of biodiversity, having high levels of species richness and endemism. Approximately 9,000 species of vascular plant are believed to occur in the hotspot, including 1,800 endemic species. The hotspot also supports an exceptional diversity of other terrestrial species with nearly a quarter of the mammals native to continental Africa and the world’s top species priorities for primate conservation. 

A number of ongoing threats to biodiversity in the hotspot have resulted in the loss of more than 85 percent of the native vegetation cover. These threats include agricultural expansion, unsustainable logging and fishing, hunting and trade of bushmeat, industrial and artisanal mining, industrial development, climate change and pollution. Many of the threats to biodiversity occurring in the region are linked, either directly or indirectly, to a high incidence of poverty, political instability and/or civil conflict.

Our new support follows an initial investment and subsequent consolidation phase between 2001 and 2011, during which CEPF provided a total of USD 8.3 million in support to conservation projects in the Upper Guinean Forests subregion. The earlier investments by CEPF demonstrated that, with appropriate support and guided by a common plan of action, civil society groups are able to contribute meaningfully to conservation efforts in West Africa.

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East Nimba Nature Reserve forest
East Nimba Nature Reserve forest. © Conservation International/photo by Bailey Evans 

Our reinvestment of $9 million has begun in June 2016 and is based on an investment strategy including: 

  • local level actions focusing on demonstrating practical solutions to conservation and development threats that have the potential for wider replication.
  • national level actions focusing on empowering civil society to positively influence conservation policies and private sector business practices, through partnerships and dialogue. 
  • regional and transboundary actions to facilitate conservation of transboundary clusters of Key Biodiversity Areas, regional dissemination of information and conservation models, and to contribute to the emergence of a regional conservation movement.
  • support to civil society to participate in and influence the climate change discourse in favor of mitigation and adaptation responses beneficial to biodiversity conservation, such as REDD+ and ecosystem-based adaptation.

Tab 3

1.  Empower local communities to engage in sustainable management of 40 priority sites and consolidate ecological connectivity at the landscape scale 1.1 Strengthen the elaboration and/or implementation of land-use planning, land tenure and forestry reforms to facilitate good governance in the management of community and private reserves and concessions
1.2 Promote preparation and implementation of participatory management plans that support stakeholder collaboration in protected area management
1.3 Demonstrate sustainable livelihood/job creation activities for local communities that will act as incentives for the conservation of priority sites (e.g., domestication of wildlife species, sustainable logging from locally controlled forests, harvesting of non-timber forest products, sustainable agriculture, etc.)
2.  Mainstream biodiversity conservation into public policy and private sector practice in the nine conservation corridors, at local, sub-national and national levels​ 2.1  Conduct policy-relevant research, analysis and outreach that informs and influences the development of national government conservation policies, including on protected area management, payment for ecosystem services, REDD+ and ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change
2.2  Generate locally relevant information on natural ecosystems (e.g., economic valuations of ecosystem services) to influence political and economic decision-making in favor of their conservation
2.3  Facilitate partnerships among local communities, private sector and government to demonstrate models for best practice mining, sustainable forestry and sustainable agriculture by private companies
3.  Safeguard priority globally threatened species by identifying and addressing major threats and information gaps 3.1  Support the implementation of Conservation Action Plans for Critically Endangered and Endangered species on the IUCN Red List
3.2  Update the KBA analysis by incorporating recently available data, including on Alliance for Zero Extinction sites and global Red List assessments and by conducting targeted research to fill critical knowledge gaps
4.  Build the capacity of local civil society organizations, including Indigenous People’s, women’s and youth groups, to conserve and manage globally important biodiversity 4.1  Strengthen the capacity of local civil society organizations in financial, institutional and project management, organizational governance, and fundraising
4.2  Establish and strengthen women-led conservation and development organizations, associations and networks to foster gender equality in natural resource management and benefit sharing
4.3  Strengthen the communication capacity of local civil society organizations in support of their mission and to build public awareness on the importance of conservation outcomes
5.  Provide strategic leadership and effective coordination of conservation investment through a regional implementation team 5.1  Operationalize and coordinate CEPF’s grant-making processes and procedures to ensure effective implementation of the investment strategy throughout the hotspot​
5.2  Build a broad constituency of civil society groups working across institutional and political boundaries to achieve common conservation objectives

Tab 4

Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot





Tab 5



Core Documents

Initial Investment

Core Documents

Monitoring & Evaluation

  • Annual Portfolio Overview, 2012
    English​ (PDF - 515 KB)

  • Annual Portfolio Overview, 2011
    English (PDF - 201 KB)

  • Annual Portfolio Overview, March 2011
    English (PDF - 155 KB)

  • Annual Portfolio Overview, September 2009
    English (PDF - 138 KB)

  • Assessing Five Years of CEPF Investment: Guinean Forests of West Africa Biodiversity Hotspot, October 2006
    English (PDF - 352 KB) | Français (PDF - 496 KB)

  • CEPF and Poverty Reduction: A Review of the CEPF Upper Guinean Ecosystem Portfolio for the Guinean Forests of West Africa Hotspot, December 2006
    English (PDF - 395 KB)

  • Portfolio Overview, as of March 2005
    English (PDF - 168 KB)
    - Full related briefing book
    English (PDF - 4.3 MB)

  • Project Final Reports
    Reports compiled by project leaders detailing final results and lessons learned
    View reports


  • News from African Protected Areas (NAPA)
    - Number 66, July 2013
    English (PDF - 945 KB)
    - Number 65, June 2013
    English (PDF - 850 KB)
    - Number 63, April 2013
    English​ (PDF - 801 KB)

  • Parôles de Forêts (Forest Wisdom) newsletter, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation
    - No. 5, December 2005
    English (PDF – 1.61 MB)
    Français (PDF – 1.63 MB)
    - No. 4, August 2005
    English (PDF – 1.63 MB)
    Français (PDF – 3.23 MB)
    - No. 3, December 2004
    English (PDF – 3.06 MB)
    Français (PDF – 3.06 MB)
    - No. 2, June 2004
    English (PDF – 2.7 MB)
    Français (PDF – 2.74 MB)

Other Publications

  • Herpetological Survey in the Volta Region, Eastern Ghana, 2002
    English (PDF – 1.2 MB)

Tab 6

Fast Facts
​​​Status: Active

  • $9.0 million
  • 2016-2021

Initial investment:
  • $6.2 million
  • 2001-2006
  • 66 grants
  • $2.1 million
  • 2008-2011
  • 10 grants
Regional Implementation​ Team:
BirdLife International

Tommy Garnett, RIT Team Leader
Regional Resources
​​​​Ecosystem Profile
- English (PDF - 5.2 MB)
- French (PDF - 5.4 MB)

Ecosystem Profile Summary
- English (PDF - 1.1 MB)
- French​ (PDF - 1.2 MB)

Ecosystem Profile Summary Brochure
- English​ (PDF - 5.1 MB)
- French (PDF - 5.9 MB)