Saving West Africa’s rainforest remnants

01 July 2010 | Article

Curbing poaching, managing the impacts of gold mining and staving off agricultural encroachment are among the challenges facing the people who manage Côte d'Ivoire’s Taï National Park World Heritage site.

Taï National Park (Parc National de Taï) in south-western Côte d'Ivoire contains one of the last areas of primary rainforest in West Africa, harbouring rich biodiversity and many threatened species. Among them are 145 species of mammals, representing 93% of the mammal species found in West Africa’s forest zone. Among them are the pygmy hippopotamus, forest elephant, forest buffalo, Jentink’s duiker and Diana monkey.

The Taï Forest reserve was created in 1926 and promoted to national park status in 1972 covering an area of 536,000 ha. It was recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1978 and added to the list of Natural World Heritage Sites in 1982.

“There are many challenges to address,” says Youssouph Diedhiou, IUCN’s focal point for World Heritage in West and Central Africa. “We need to strengthen the role of local authorities in conservation of the park, involve local people in monitoring activities, safeguard the park’s boundaries from encroachment and work more closely with the forestry administration. We also need to find ways of achieving sustainable funding for the park and set clear performance indicators for the activities implemented.”

Despite the work that lies ahead, many important steps have been taken. A management plan for the period 2006-2015 is being implemented and regular progress assessments are carried out to make sure that this is on track. The park has had in place for several years an efficient monitoring system that includes regular resource inventories. And because of the transparency of its management, Tai still enjoys the confidence of donors who want to continue their conservation support.

IUCN, through its Programme on Protected Areas in Central and West Africa regularly carries out assessments of the management effectiveness in Tai. These evaluations have identified various difficulties encountered in managing this property and propose measures for improvement. IUCN also carries out regular training for staff working in the park on areas such as environmental monitoring, ecotourism, wildlife inventories and the development and implementation of management plans.

For more information contact:

Geoffroy Mauvais: Regional coordinator, Protected Areas Programme in Central and West Africa.
Email: geoffroy.mauvais@iucn.org

Youssouph Diedhiou: Programme Officer, World Heritage Protected Areas Programme in Central and West Africa.
Email: youssouph.diedhiou@iucn.org

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