Synchronicity Earth is supporting BirdLife for its work in São Tomé and Principe to protect important forest habitat and its biodiversity from a proposed palm oil plantation.
The islands of São Tomé and Principe are one of Africa’s major centres of wildlife endemism (including 28 endemic bird species). 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 a palm oil plantation that is deforesting and degrading this ecosystem. We are supporting BirdLife to finalise conservation action plans for the three CR bird species; assess local forest knowledge and use; and open up discussions between the palm oil company and civil society groups.
BirdLife is a worldwide nature conservation partnership that works locally, nationally and globally for birds, for nature and for people. BirdLife and local partners currently constitute the only conservation effort addressing the threat of expanding palm oil to forests in São Tome and as such they need support. 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.