Synchronicity Earth supported BirdLife’s work in São Tomé and Principe in 2014 and 2016. The islands of São Tomé and Principe, off the coast of West Africa, are one of the continent’s major centres of wildlife endemism (they host more endemic species than the Galapagos islands in less than an eighth of the area). They are home to four Critically Endangered (CR) bird species. Three of which – the São Tomé fiscal (Lanius newtoni), São Tomé grosbeak (Neospiza concolor), and the Dwarf olive ibis (Bostrychia bocagei) – are endemic to São Tome Island and found nowhere else on earth. All three species occur in the lowland forests in the southwest of the island.
These forests have been classified as the second most important forests for bird conservation in Africa. Obô Natural Park and its buffer zone cover one third of the island, and the habitat of the three CR bird species occurs almost exclusively within the Park. The forests in the buffer zone are under serious threat from palm oil plantations, hydropower dams, road construction and cocoa farming. We are supporting BirdLife to implement conservation action plans for the three CR bird species, build local conservation awareness and capacity on these islands, and restore key areas of habitat.
BirdLife is a worldwide nature conservation partnership that works locally, nationally and globally for birds, for nature and for people. BirdLife and partners understand that they need to work at all levels in São Tomé: with local communities, with government and with the palm oil company. Their focus on working as a network and developing capacity of local partners make them well placed to support local organisations to conserve important habitats in the long-term. For sites like this, where local populations live alongside biodiverse habitats, BirdLife has developed a specific conservation approach for working with local communities, which places strong emphasis on involving them in conservation and ensuring that their concerns are taken on board and addressed.