Building conservation capacity in Sierra Leone

The RSPB has had a 20-year history of supporting front line conservation in Sierra Leone.

A landscape (as seen from the road near the President's Lodge site), Gola, Sierra Leone


The RSPB has had a 20-year history of supporting front line conservation in Sierra Leone. Sierra Leone has some of the most wildlife-rich forests and coastline remaining in West Africa with wildlife of global significance. We have profound and enduring links with its small, but determined, conservation community.
Sierra Leone has a young conservation community. The prospect of local environmental charities only came to the fore in the late 1980s. The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone was one of the first and is the most active environmental charity in the country. The RSPB responded to calls for international help to support the conservation community in Sierra Leone in 1989.
Sierra Leone suffered greatly from a decade-long civil war which ended in 2002. As a result, much of the infrastructure has been badly damaged and the human capacity greatly degraded. In spite of the turmoil, CSSL managed to carry out surveys of the Important Bird Areas of the country and produce a 5-volume resource book for teachers.
Sierra Leone is home to extensive and diverse wetlands, coastal and marine habitats, west Africa’s highest mountain (Mount Loma at 2,000m) and supports both savannah and rainforests in close proximity. There are over 630 bird species found in Sierra Leone’s borders. Ten threatened species exist in Sierra Leone including the endangered Rufous fishing owl and Gola malimbe. This is remarkable for a country one-third the size of England.


  • Build the capacity of the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone to be an effective and leading environmental charity in Sierra Leone and the West African sub region.
  • Ensure that the environment agenda becomes a high priority on government and donor agendas.
  • Ensure that CSSL diversifies and increases its income to become less reliant on RSPB funds.
  • Help CSSL protect Sierra Leone's remaining forests, wetlands and globally threatened species.

Key Dates

  • CSSL is established as Sierra Leone's leading environmental and biodiversity conservation NGO.
  • During the difficult days of the country's civil war (1990s) and afterwards, their unflagging dedication has been an inspiration.
  • CSSL produced a 5 book environmental source book for teachers in the early 1990s.
  • CSSL produced the Important Birds of Sierra Leone book in 2006.


Planned Work

The RSPB is currently supporting the core operations of CSSL as it has done for the past 20 years. Our support focuses on improving the core functions of the Society including fundraising, project management, membership and publicity.
The largest ever Ebola outbreak affected several countries in West Africa, including Sierra Leone and Liberia where the RSPB has been working for many years with local BirdLife partners and Governments to conserve critical biodiversity and sustainability.
The epidemic was responsible for around 11,300 deaths and is still threatening more lives as well as the economies of these countries. The RSPB is doing its upmost to support and assist project staff as well as Gola’s local communities during these particularly difficult times, stressing that staff and communities should take advice from the medical authorities. It is with heartfelt friendship that the RSPB reaches out to all its Sierra Leonean and Liberian colleagues.


Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL)
Tele: +232 22 229716
Fax:  +232 22 224439


The RSPB provide funding for the core of CSSLs activities.


Coast on a stormy day

Alex Hipkiss

Senior International Funding Officer, RSPB
Tagged with: Country: Sierra Leone Project status: Project types: Advocacy Project types: Education Project types: Organisation development