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Sierra Leone: Surveys and Capacity Building

Sierra Leone is now stable after years of civil unrest and loss of institutional capacity, including its herbaria and botanists. In late 2009 we began collaborative surveys in the Sula Mountains with the National Herbarium and Fourah Bay College. To date 2560 specimens have resulted and five new species to science, all threatened, are in the course of publication.

Sierra Leone, summit of hill 950 (Xander van der Burgt)

After years of civil unrest Sierra Leone is stable and developing fast.  Much of the original forest vegetation has been lost to rice cultivation over hundred's of years, yet areas of importance for conservation remain and Sierra Leone has many endemic and threatened species.  However new development projects also pose potential threats to what survives.

The Kew Herbarium has the most comprehensive representation in the world of Sierra Leone plant species, dating back to the 18th Century specimens of Afzelius.

Kew resumed plant surveys in Sierra Leone in late 2009 thanks to the opportunities presented by a mining company in the Sula Mountains.  Collaborative fieldwork with the National Herbarium at Njala University and with Fourah Bay College at Freetown has resulted.  Increasing the capacity of their herbaria and staff is ongoing.  Five new species to science have been discovered and assessed as threatened.  As a result this project now seeks to avoid impacting these species, and to multiply them in a nursery for reintroduction.  Forest restoration is planned.  Kew has proposed an offset for the project and long-term monitoring of threatened species.

Nationwide Kew is committed to supporting proposals for new and strengthened protected areas by supplying data on vegetation types and on clusters of threatened plant species.

 

Publications:

Banks, J. & Kabbi, Kanu (in press).  A Revision of Pseudovigna (Leguminosae-Papilionoideae).  Kew Bull.

Estrela, M., Burgt, van der, X.M., Mackinder, B. (in press).  Gilbertiodendron tonkolili a new species from Sierra Leone.  Kew Bull.

Phillips, S., Burgt, van der, X.M. & Kabbi, K. (in press).  Two new species of Eriocaulon from Sierra Leone.  Kew Bull.

Project partners and collaborators

Sierra Leone

National Herbarium of Sierra Leone at Njala University: Abdulai Feika

Fourah Bay College Herbarium, Freetown: Kabbi Kanu

Project team

Herbarium, Library, Art & Archives

Xander van der Burgt, Ruth Clark, Iain Darbyshire, Sue Frisby, Yvette Harvey

Jodrell

Laszlo Csiba

Science Teams: 
Project Leader: