The Gola Forest is the largest remaining area of Upper Guinea tropical forest in Sierra
Leone. It shows a high variety of different forest habitats in different stages (pristine to disturbed, and various succession stages) and is home to many species, many of them being endemic to the
Upper Guinean forests, and even to smaller areas in the region.
Location & Setting: Located in the south-eastern edge of Sierra Leone, on the border
with Liberia, the Gola Forest is the largest remnant of the Upper Guinea tropical moist lowland high evergreen forest in Sierra Leone with a total area of 71,070 ha. The Gola Forest lies mostly in
the Eastern Region (province) of Sierra Leone, but extends marginally into the Southern (Bo) region. It lies in three districts, principally Kenema district but extends into Kailahun district in the
North and Pujehun District in the South. Seven chiefdoms are associated with the Gola Forest. These can claim land ownership of the Gola Forest, yet the legislative and administrative authority lies
with the Forestry Division of MAFF and more directly with the offices of the local District Forestry Officer in each of the three districts.
Ecology: The Gola Forest lies within the wet tropical climatic zone and the average
rainfall is estimated at 2,800mm (White 1972). The predominant features of Gola include extensive rolling hills, but also areas of swampy terrain. Gola South, as far as the Mahoi River, is typified
by relatively small trees with a dense understory and frequent swamps along the river valleys. The Gola Forest provides important local water supplies to villages around the forest and the forest
reserves are an important catchment for the Moro, Mahoi, Mano and Moa rivers. The total number of plant species recorded is 970 species with 599 forest species endemic to the Upper Guinea forests.
Forty nine species of larger mammals are known from the Gola Forest. The most important mammals of conservation value and significance are pygmy hippopotamus, African forest elephant, zebra duiker
chimpanzee, Diana monkey and western red colobus. All but the African elephant and chimpanzee are endemic to the Upper Guinea forests making Gola Forest exceptionally important for their
conservation. Approximately 313 species of birds have been recorded with at least eighteen species of global conservation concern. To date 43 species of amphibians have been identified in the NP and
six are listed as Near threatened or Vulnerable.
The Banana Islands are a group of islands that lie
off the coats south west of the Peninsula in the Western Area of Sierra Leone. The three islands that made up the Banana Islands are
two Dublin, Ricketts and Mes-Meheux. Dublin and Ricketts are linked by a stone causeway. Dublin Island is known for its beaches, while Ricketts Island is best known for
its forests. Mes-Meheux is the uninhabited third island of the Banana Islands. They are accessible by boat or helicopter.
Dublin and Ricketts Islands have a combined population of about
900 people. The two Islands are connected by a spit of sand that is underwater at high tide. A stone bridge connects the path between the two islands' villages of Dublin and Ricketts, located on the
coast facing the Western Peninsula.
The islands were visited in the 17th century and perhaps earlier
by Portuguese sailors and then were settled in the late 18th and 19th centuries by freed slaves whose descendants make up most of the population of the islands today.
During the late 1700s disputes broke into deep violence
between the Clevelands of Banana Islands and the Caulkers on Plaintain Islands, this led into the 1800s when finally the Caulkers succeeded in taking both sets of
Shipwrecks lie off the coast and in one can be found canons
amongst the ruin and coral. On the northern tip of Dublin Island the ruins of an 1881 church as well as an old slave dock can be found. It is advised that visitors should pay their respects to the
tribal chief before wandering around the islands.
Tourist infrastructure exists only in the northern part of the