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The Gola Rainforest Conservation Centre (GRCC)
The Gola Rainforest Conservation Centre (GRCC) aims to become a regional centre of excellence for capacity building and research in the Upper Guinea Forests of West Africa. It hosts visitors and researchers and can be booked for group events.
Capacity building is provided to community members, conservation practitioners, students, scientists, government representatives and conservation managers.
The GRCC is located at the northern edge of the central block of the Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP) in south-eastern Sierra Leone with pristine rainforest and its amazing fauna and flora on its doorstep. It is close to the village of Lalehun and about 1h 30 min away from Kenema, where the GRNP headquarter office is based. From the international airport (in Lungi), there is a direct, very good tarmac road to Kenema, as well as from the capital (Freetown). The drive to Kenema whether it be from the airport or Freetown, takes up to 5 hours.
Currently, the GRCC comprises 5 buildings: One 3-bedroom house with bathroom and kitchen, two 10-bedroom houses with bathrooms, a canteen with kitchen area, and a separate toilet. All rooms are furnished with a double bed, table, chair and a small cupboard. The canteen is being used for teaching activities until a dedicated space will be constructed. There is additional space available for tents. While theoretical teaching happens directly in the facilities of the GRCC, practical lessons can be given in the surrounding forest.
Ongoing capacity building activities at the GRCC are focusing on the training of GRNP staff members, community members (e.g. GRNP Community Youth Conservation Volunteer Programme on the white-necked Picathartes and Pygmy Hippos), students from Njala University and Eastern Polytechnic College in Kenema, as well as on conservation practitioners and researchers from other institutions (e.g. National Protected Areas Authority, Conservation Society of Sierra Leone, Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia and Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary).
We also aim to bring school classes as well as other community members to the GRCC in the framework of various Environmental Education activities. As the GRCC develops further, we wish to keep local communities actively involved, especially women, in the activities of the GRCC. Their support, ownership and partnership is paramount.