Call for Proposals

Application deadline: 
Friday, 24. September 2021 - 23:45

Terms of Reference and Call for Proposals for the Development of a Sustainable Financing Plan for the Conservation of the Gola Forest Landscape, Liberia and Sierra Leone

Support Programme for the Preservation of Forest Ecosystems in West Africa, Conservation of the Gola Forest Landscape
(Gola PAPFor Project)
Introduction: The Gola PAPFor Project, funded by the European Commission (2019/412 421), is implemented by BirdLife International (BirdLife) in partnership with the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), the Gola Rainforest Conservation LG (GRC LG), the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). In the long term, the project aims to conserve the forest ecosystems of the globally important Gola Forest Landscape, contributing to biodiversity conservation, climate change resilience, water conservation and food security. A key component of the Gola PAPFor Project is the development of a sustainable financing plan for the conservation of the landscape, to be followed by implementation of the first year of the plan. BirdLife, as lead partner on this project, is therefore issuing this call for proposals from experts to develop a realistic plan for the sustainable financing of the Gola Forest Landscape. Developing the proposal would involve working with the project partners, relevant government ministries, community leaders, funders and relevant private sector actors.
Conservation Background:  The Gola Forest Landscape, covering 350,000 ha and straddling the Sierra Leone/ Liberia border, is the largest remaining block of Upper Guinea Forest. In Sierra Leone, it encompasses the Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP, created 2010), the Kambui Hills Forest Reserve, and the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary. In Liberia, it encompasses the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP, created 2016) and the Foya Proposed Protected Area (FPPA). The Gola Forest Landscape also includes the community forests surrounding these areas in both countries. The landscape is part of a globally important biodiversity hotspot, holding at least 60 threatened species including Zebra Duiker, Red Colobus, Western Pied Colobus, Pangolin, Forest Elephant and the world’s second largest western chimpanzee population. The forest plays a critical function through the range of ecosystem services that it provides and contributes to the mitigation of climate change impacts both globally and locally.
The project partners have worked together for 28 years in Sierra Leone and 12 in Liberia with the aim of managing the landscape sustainably for the benefit of biodiversity, the climate, and nearby communities (>160 communities, >50,000 people). The partnership has remained committed through the civil wars, the Ebola crisis, and now the COVID pandemic. Partners are driven by a shared vision: that the Gola Forest Landscape should be a catalyst for peace, prosperity and national pride in both countries, ensuring that these globally important habitats, biodiversity, environmental services and wider landscape are conserved, and that neighbouring communities are active environmental stewards of the natural resource base that underpins and enhances their livelihoods. 
Much has already been achieved to protect the Gola Forest Landscape: 
  • The establishment of the Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP) and the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP), as well as the Tiwai Wildlife Sanctuary and Kambui Hills Forest Reserve. Work is currently underway to officially gazette the Foya Proposed Protected Area (FPPA). 
  • A strong programme supporting forest-friendly livelihoods benefiting >50,000 people in the forests adjacent to the protected areas, recognising that community wellbeing is essential to and integrated with biodiversity conservation.
  • The establishment of two legally recognised community forests (CFs) in Liberia that connect the GRNP, GFNP and the FPPA. Significant progress has been made to establish two CFs in Sierra Leone, in Tunkia and Malema Chiefdoms, and up to 4 CFs around the Kambui Forest Reserve. There is ongoing work towards establishing 5 more CFs in Liberia, and 4 more in Sierra Leone. 
  • A developing scientific understanding of the biodiversity value of the protected areas and connecting forests on which to base interventions.
Funding background: Over the years, the work of conserving the Gola Forest Landscape has been funded largely through time-limited grants to the partners. The largest individual donor is the European Commission, while others include Global Conservation fund at Conservation International, CEPF, Rainforest Trust, UK Darwin Initiative and IWT Challenge Fund and USAID. In addition, the RSPB has contributed significantly to conservation work in the landscape with funding generated by its members. 
Given the inherent uncertainty of grant funding and the high levels of administration associated with managing a grant, the partners have undertaken various initiatives to establish more secure and long-term sources of financing for the conservation of the Gola
Forest Landscape. 
In 2006, the RSPB commissioned a study on “Sustainable Financing for Protected Areas in Sierra Leone” that analysed the major mechanisms then available for financing protected areas. Around the same time, a trust fund was established to support GRNP operations, called the International Eco Fund (IEF), and with initial contributions from the RSPB and The Global Conservation Fund at Conservation International. The Trust Fund is still quite modest in size but has supported some activities including the launch of cocoa activities.
Perhaps most significantly, the RSPB later led and financed a process to establish the first REDD+ project in West Africa, to help finance the management of the GRNP in Sierra Leone. This REDD+ project has been operational for 7 years now and the sale of carbon credits currently provides about $US500,000 annually, covering about half of the GRNP’s operational costs. We are confident that upcoming agreements with sales partners will generate at least 3 years’ worth of 100% funding for the GRNP, and make contributions to the IEF and the SL Conservation Trust Fund.
In 2019, the RSPB and SCNL commissioned a study of the feasibility of carbon financing for Community Forests in Liberia. While a more detailed feasibility study is required to provide a completely definitive answer, the main conclusion of this initial study was that the Community Forests were likely too small for an individual REDD+ project to be feasible (the CFs are typically 10 – 50,000 ha in Gola Liberia) but that a REDD+ project would likely be feasible if several CFs joined together to establish one project. 
Currently, the RSPB and SCNL are collaborating on a pilot project to test the feasibility of using the interest generated by small loan programmes to provide funding for the management of Community Forests. A third partner in the pilot project, impact investment firm Finance Earth, has the task of establishing an impact investment fund that will eventually provide the capital for similar small loan programmes throughout the Gola Landscape. 
Purpose of the Consultancy: The overall purpose of this consultancy is to help guide the establishment of sustainable funding mechanisms for the Gola Forest Landscape. This will be based on a thorough analysis of: 
  a- the current context (institutional, political, legal, policy, socio-economic, governance, existing capacity at different levels, etc.) in the landscape. 
  b- past, present, and planned initiatives towards sustainable financing of the conservation of the Gola Forest Landscape in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Although some initiatives are listed under “funding background” section, the analysis under this consultancy must be comprehensive of all initiatives. 
  c- sustainable finance options for Protected Areas management, including tested market-based instruments (e.g. payment for ecosystem services, REDD+, blended finance etc.).
Objectives of the Consultancy:  More specifically, this consultancy will: 
  1. Conduct the analysis and provide recommendations needed for the partners and other stakeholders to determine the most feasible mixture of funding mechanisms to pursue to ensure realistic sustainable long-term financing for the conservation of the Gola Forest Landscape, and building on past, existing and planned initiatives.
  2. Once the most feasible mixture is determined, develop an action plan for the implementation of the chosen mechanisms for 10 years, in consultation with the project partners. 
  3. Identify eventual gaps in the current context, recommend realistic ways to address/remedy them in the short, medium and long term to guide the implementation team, to adjust the 10-year plan (developed under point 2 above) during implementation.
Deliverables: The consultant(s) is expected to: 
  1- Prepare a detailed workplan to be mutually agreed with the Gola PAPFor Project Supervisor supported by RSPB’s sustainable Finance team.
  2- Prepare a list of possible mechanisms for providing long-term sustainable funding for some aspect of the conservation of the Gola Forest Landscape. Those to be analysed to be mutually agreed with the Gola PAPFor Project Supervisor. 
  3- Prepare a draft report analysing the feasibility of each of the funding mechanisms identified in (b) that:
• Incorporates the partners’ and other stakeholders’ experience in the landscape thus far.
• Describes the main factors that determine the feasibility of each analysed funding mechanism.
• Incorporates an understanding of the heterogeneity of the landscape due to differences in legal, policy structures in Liberia and Sierra Leone, differences in social structures amongst different ethnic groups, differences in the bio-physical characteristics of the landscape, differences between protected areas and community-managed areas, differences in experience in managing different funding mechanisms, amongst others.
• Includes an assessment of and suggest ways to remedy the identified gaps for the following: 
  o the capacity of the relevant structures/ organisations to implement each possible funding mechanism. 
  o the political will to implement each possible funding mechanism.
  o the global and national socio-economic conditions relevant to the feasibility of each possible funding mechanism.
  o the policy and legal framework relevant to the feasibility of each possible funding mechanism. 
  o The governance structure relevant to the feasibility of the different funding mechanisms.
• Rates each possible funding mechanism as to its feasibility or not in the specific context of the Gola Forest Landscape.
• Describes the conditions/ assumptions that must hold and/ or change for a given funding mechanism to be feasible. 
• Provides recommendations as to the most feasible mix(es) of funding mechanisms for the long-term sustainable financing of the Gola Forest Landscape
4- Present the findings of the analysis to a validation meeting of all stakeholders and participate in the subsequent discussions. (Note that project staff will organise and facilitate the meeting.)
5- Once the stakeholders have agreed on a mix of funding mechanisms, prepare a 10-year indicative action plan to put the funding mechanisms in place and a detailed plan for the first year. 
6- Prepare a final report that incorporates the stakeholders’ feedback on the draft report. 
7- The consultant may structure the final report in the way they think best addresses the objectives of the consultancy but should include among others a list of acronyms, an executive summary, a separate section for recommendations, a graphic that summarises the findings of the analysis on one page, an annex with relevant supporting documents (e.g. documentation of the stakeholders’ feedback during their consultations).
Expectations: The consultant is expected to consult widely in Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as globally, to ensure a good understanding of all the factors that affect the feasibility of different funding mechanisms. The consultant is expected to bring new ideas to the landscape rather than going over old ground.  This consultation will be best done face-to-face but virtual consultation can be considered depending on the COVID situation. The consultancy is expected to last no more than 4 months. The total budget available for all aspects of the consultancy is Euros 25,000 . 
Proposals: Interested consultants are requested to send a proposal via email to by 13 September 2021 (COB EAT). The proposal should contain the following: 
a. Description of the consultant’s expertise in sustainable finance in developing countries, preferably in the field of forest management/conservation.
b. Description of the consultant’s experience relevant to this consultancy.  If you are a company then this must be related to the individual(s) who will undertake this work.
c. Description of the approach/ methodologies to be used to carry out this consultancy
d. Timetable for undertaking the work, with clear indication of the key milestones    
e. Budget including explanation of day rates, and outline timetable.
Please keep the proposal to a maximum of 7 pages.