Sao Tome Lowland Forest (Palm Oil Plantation expansion)
By Policy Intern, Thursday 29/05/2014.
Campaign period: 2009 and on-going
São Tomé and Principe (recently designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO) are beautiful islands found in the west coast of Africa with amazing and unique flora and fauna. Of a total avifauna of 143 species, including 72 breeding residents, 28 species are endemic to São Tomé and Principe. Twelve of the endemics are species of global conservation concern.
Why it is important
- It holds three Critically Endangered bird species - the São Tomé Fiscal (Lanius newtoni), São Tomé Grosbeak (Neospiza concolor), and the Dwarf Olive Ibis (Bostrychia bocagei) - which are found nowhere else on earth.
In late 2009, Agripalma, a subsidiary of STP Invest and São Tomé investors acquired a concession to recover and expand oil palm plantations (5,000 ha) close to the Monte Carmo forests of the Obô Natural Park and overlapping with the Natural Park’s buffer zone.
Serious threats are resulting from opening up access to the forest due to oil palm plantations, including increasing hunting and extractive pressures on the forest birds and other biodiversity. Agripalma made a request to use part of the Obô Natural Park itself for oil palm plantations since they lost out their concession in the Island of Principe.
- Letter written to the government of Sao Tome and Socfinco (technical advisor to Agripalma) to institute appropriate measures by temporarily halting the land clearance activities by Agripalma until permanent solution for addressing the issues of concern are in place. Meetings held with Socfinco and agreement reached on the need to undertake assessment of areas that are important for conservation of critically endangered species.
- Development of an advocacy plan for Sao Tome developmental activities
- A preliminary project to take action on the three endangered species implemented
- Assessment of the populations of the 3 critically endangered species ongoing
- Action plan on endangered species is currently ongoing. The Government is responsive to the process