Ecology Programmes Saving the mangroves on Tristao

The Tristao islands are a valuable ecosystem and the mangroves that cover half the area are a key habitat for wildlife and fishery resources. The biodiversity of Tristao is very special and vulnerable. It’s is a breeding area for several species of marine turtles and more than 200 bird species have been identified. Tristao Islands are very isolated from Guinea mainland life and very poor.

Mangrove forests are a crucial component of the landscape and essential for the livelihoods of the island inhabitants. Mangroves protect the islands against coastal erosion and sea level rise, but mangroves are also the main and only source of energy for the island population.


Most of the population of 15.000 inhabitants live below the poverty line. Mangrove wood is used for basic needs such as cooking, water boiling, lighting of public areas, and income generating activities, namely smoking fish, palm oil extraction and salt production. Fish smoking is the biggest economic activity on the islands and uses around 535 ha of mangroves yearly. Agriculture consists mainly of rice production which also has a strong negative impact on mangroves: mangroves are cleared to make space for rice fields. However over the years, due to sea level rise, protective dikes around rice fields have been giving away to the incursion of salty water into the rice fields. This situation has forced farmers to abandon these salinized rice fields and start new rice fields further inland, clearing more mangrove forests.

The pressure on the mangroves is worsened due to a high population growth and economic development. Action is needed to stop and reverse this trend.


The overall vision of this programme is that by 2022, the mangroves of the Tristao Islands are revived and have a broad vegetation cover, protected against the factors of degradation and favourable to the maintenance of the biodiversity for the well-being of the populations.

This vision will be achieved by following the following strategies:

  1. Restoration and replanting of 600 ha mangroves;
  2. Reducing the pressure of cutting the mangroves by promoting alternative techniques for fish smoking, household cooking and drying salt;
  3. Training eco-rangers and providing them with the means for surveillance to protect this nature reserve.
  4. This programme is executed by our partner PRCM

Key features

Landscape  Tristao Islands
  15.300 ha of mangroves
  Home to 15.000 people
Goals  400 ha abandoned rice paddies restored into ‘healthy’ mangroves
  200 ha new mangroves planted
  300 households using improved cook stoves
  20 women groups using improved fish smoking stoves
  6 women groups involved in dry salt production
  200 women using improved stoves for palm oil production