- The President of Guinea-Bissau, Henrique Pereira Rosa, recently made his first-ever visit to the biosphere reserve of the Archipelago of Bijagos. Impressed by the work done reserve, President Rosa was asked by local authorities to increase the protected area to include six marine areas.
President Rosa recently visited the Bijagos Reserve, a site included in UNESCO's list of World Heritage. He was followed by a significant delegation of Bissau-Guinean authorities and the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO) and received by local authorities and environmentalists.
This first-ever visit of a Bissau-Guinean Head of State provided an opportunity for local authorities to present the great conservation efforts achieved in the Bijagos Reserve while Guinea-Bissau has lived through years of chaos. Local authorities have counted on the help of the world environmentalist grouping IUCN while central authorities failed in providing resources.
- When one arrives at this site, one realises how much great work the IUCN undertakes at a community scale here in Guinea-Bissau, President Rosa told the delegates at Bijagos. "This work deserves to be developed," he further indicated. Together with local authorities, IUCN has laid down much work in safeguarding the marine ecosystem, which is under strong pressure.
These efforts have resulted in the creation of six marine reserves during ten last years, protected by the local authorities of the Bijagos Archipelago. In addition to assisting local communities in the park, authorities here are "fully committed to safeguarding the natural resources," according to IUCN.
Now, local authorities are asking for help from the central government to secure the sustainable development of this part of the country. The local authorities asked President Rosa to use its influence to plead the government of Guinea-Bissau to formally protect the six marine areas.
The Bijagos biosphere reserve gathers 80 islands, of which 20 are inhabited. Rich in marine fauna, marine hippos, manatees and other marine mammals, it is also a site receiving significant numbers of migratory birds. The economy of the reserve contributes enormously to the development of Guinea-Bissau. According to IUCN, it is only rightful that UNESCO regards Bijagos as world heritage.
In addition to visiting Bijagos, President Rosa also visited the marine park of João Vieira and Poilão, in the south of Guinea-Bissau. This marine park is the most significant egg-laying site of the green tortoises at the eastern Atlantic coast.
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