Accueil Sierra Leone : These coastal estuaries that do not yet have formal Marine Protected Area status despite their importance.
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Sierra Leone : These coastal estuaries that do not yet have formal Marine Protected Area status despite their importance. 8/07/2017

In june, RAMPAO secrétariat had conducted a scouting trip in the seventh country, members of the network: Sierra Leone. Despite being member of RAMPAO, Sierra leone has no MPA listed among the MPAs members of RAMPAO, yet, there are in fact 4 sites already designated to become MPAs

It is about, the Sherbo River, the Scaies River, the Sierra Leone River and Yawry Bay. The formal creation process of these 4 potential MPAs has been started since a while and to date it seems that the process is under final phase: consultation with authorities and local communities. To do so, RAMPAO is engaged by the side of ,EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the Ministry of Fisheries and the NPAA (National Protected Areas Authority). Go off to the discover of those ’ sites with Yattah Camara, MPAs managment officer at NPAA.

Sierra Leone’s coastal ecosystems are recognised as important biodiversity hotspots in the world. These estuarine ecosystems have been designated as important bird areas (IBAs) or hold endangered and rare species. The coastline is also sprawled with a large area of mangrove cover, sand flats and mudflats that widely support marine and aquatic ecologies.

Along the extensive coastal zone are many indentations and estuarine ecosystems, four of which constitute the most important coastal wetlands in the country: the Scarcies River estuary, the Sierra Leone River estuary, the Yawri Bay, and the Sherbro River estuary. Over the past decades, these coastal ecosystems have not been subjected to protected area management and have therefore come under tremendous natural and anthropogenic threats and degradation despite the importance that have been identified with it.

The Scarcies River Estuary (SRE)
The SRE is generally large wetlands incorporating the drainage basis of both the Great Scarcies and the Little Scarcies rivers.The estimate size of the estuary is about 44,403 ha. Though the site is gazetted AS MPA, there is no formal/standard management plan for the site. The estuary is connected to the Atlantic coast and most marine fish species use this coastal region of the swamp as spawning, breeding and foraging grounds while the freshwater network also provides suitable breeding ground for freshwater species. The estuary is also known to serve as one of the major stop-over sites along the flyways of many Palaearctic migratory species. The mangrove vegetation also provides suitable habitat for some mammalian fauna.

The Sierra Leone River Estuary (SLRE)
The SLRE is hared between the Port Loko District and the Western Rural District. It is officially estimated to cover an area of 295,000 ha.
The SLRE site is gazetted as MPA and there is a draft management plan for the entire estuary. The SLRE is a designated Ramsar Site (1008th in the world) and a designated IBA. In fact, it is estimated that the estuary supports up to 20,000 birds on a regular basis and holds 1% or more of the biogeographic population of seven species. Much of the banks of estuary is covered by mangrove swamp, thus accounted for 19% (34,234 ha) of the mangrove cover in the country.

The Yawri Bay
There is no actual on-the-ground boundary demarcation for the site, but it is officially estimated to cover an area of 31,605 ha including sandflats, mudflats and mangroves swamp.Ther Yawri Bay is a gazetted site and has no official management plan for the biodiversity management of the site. Official management of the bay is focused on the regulation of fishing activities.Yawri Bay is by far the largest bay in Sierra Leone and it incorporates three major creek: Ribbi Creek, Bompe Creek and Kagboro Creek. The topography of the continental shelf in the bay is very gentle, a characteristic that protects the bay against the force of the river flow and strong current from the sea. This provides a suitable spawning ground for fish and other marine fauna, making the Yawri Bay the most productive coastal wetland as far as fish and related resources are concerned. The Yawri bay certainly supports the five species of globally threatened marine turtles and ahs recorded the West African Manatee and Maxwell Duiker and Bay Duiker.

The Sherbro River Estuary
This site is gazzetted as MPA but there is no formal management plan for the site neither there is an official boundary demarcation for the site - the SRE is estimated to be around 28400 ha.It comprises many islands of which many are uninhabited. The islands are providing tremendous support to both humans and biodiversity in Sierra Leone and they are presently part of the Marine Protected Areas in the country. It has the largest pristine mangrove forests in the country, accounting for over 54% of the country’s mangrove cover. Birds of the Sherbro River Estuary mainly comprise Palaearctic and intra-African migratory species, because of the dominance of mangrove swamp, extensive mud flats and sand flats. Mega reptile species within and around the Sherbro River Estuary include green turtles, hawksbill, olive ridley, leatherback, loggerheads and crocodiles. Other common reptiles include monitor lizards, mambas and water snakes.

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