Protecting the unique and threatened seas and forests of São Tomé and Príncipe
São Tomé and Príncipe is a tropical archipelago nation nestled in the Gulf of Guinea. Due to its remote location, it is a biodiversity hotspot with many species found nowhere else in the world. We and our local partners are working with island communities to better understand and conserve the country’s unique forests and marine habitats, protecting threatened species and providing benefits for local livelihoods.
The forests of Príncipe are among the 200 most important biodiversity areas in the world. Recognising the importance of protecting the island’s endemic plant and animal species, in 2016 Fauna & Flora International (FFI) began extensive island-wide biodiversity surveys and 3D mapping to better understand the conservation efforts required. The surveys found dozens of endemic bird, invertebrate and reptile species – many of which are already facing extinction and remain poorly known or even undescribed in science. Urgent action (including research) for the critically endangered Príncipe thrush was identified as a high priority, with fewer than 300 individuals left in the wild.
The ocean around São Tomé and Príncipe is a marine biodiversity hotspot due to its high levels of species endemism. Sadly, however, overfishing and destructive fishing practices are posing an increasing threat and contributing to the rapid decline of fish stocks and degradation of marine ecosystems. This poses a serious threat to local fishing communities who rely on marine resources for their livelihoods. FFI is therefore working with partners on the islands to engage with local stakeholders, including government and coastal communities, to promote sustainable use of marine resources through the establishment of co-managed marine protected areas.
We aim to protect Príncipe’s remarkable forests and their wildlife by:
We aim to protect the ocean around São Tomé and Príncipe by:
Our work in São Tomé and Príncipe strikes a balance between direct conservation action and securing sustainable local livelihoods. Initiatives include raising environmental awareness, building conservation capacity, and diversifying the livelihoods of communities, in particular through direct support to local partner organisations.
FFI conducted the first systematic botanical survey of the island. As the biggest joint plant research effort ever to be undertaken on Príncipe, 1,200 trees were recorded, 110 different species observed, and 450 herbarium samples were collected for further investigation. Our work to better understand Príncipe’s trees – from their distribution across the island to how they are used by local people – enables informed decision-making about how best to conserve them.
FFI and its three local partners are currently engaging with local stakeholders to establish more sustainable marine resource use practices around the islands. This work includes consultations with local communities as part of the marine spatial planning process, as well as engagement with the national government.
Thirty-two breeding pairs of brown-footed boobies are tagged during a collaborative expedition to the Tinhosas islets. In the same year, suspected new tree species are discovered in Príncipe National Park.
Inception of the Blue Action Fund marine project.
Campanha Captura Zero, the ‘zero capture’ campaign for marine turtles, is launched.
3D maps of the forests are created using a drone.
FFI first visits Príncipe and forms a partnership with the Príncipe Trust Foundation.
Príncipe is designated a UNESCO Biosphere reserve.
Marine work: Berry Mulligan, Senior Programme Manager, Eurasia
Terrestrial work: Sara Calcada, Programme Manager, Eastern Atlantic Islands, Eurasia
Partnership is at the very heart of our organisation and is central to everything we do. We work collaboratively with a huge range of people and groups – from communities, governments, NGOs and businesses based locally, to international organisations, corporations and multilateral bodies.
We are grateful for the support of Blue Action Fund, Arcadia (a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin), Fondation Franklinia, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and Global Trees Campaign for this project.