Approaching the island of São Tomé is a humbling experience. Stretching as far as the eye can see is a seemingly endless forest canopy, an extraordinary natural garden.
A third of this forest in the gulf of New Guinea is still covered by virgin forests. A marvel, that to date has been virtually untouched by man.
For a long time, the forest of São Tomé remained tucked away from the world, and still hides within it many unknown natural treasures. Current scientific research just started here just 30 years ago.
Some of biodiversity seen here is found nowhere else on earth. Half of the species of birds are only found in São Tomé. There are about 100 species of birds on this island, and new ones are discovered every year.
The island is naturally protected, yet increasingly threatened by São Tomé’s urbanization. Its population has doubled in 20 years, to 200,000 inhabitants today. As the numbers grow, so does the consumption for wood for houses and charcoal. Meanwhile, the forest in shrinking.
You can see section of forests cut down in many parts of the island. This is country where two out of three inhabitants live below the poverty line.
Each hector of forest that disappears here, takes with it unique species, some of which haven’t been discovered yet.
The forest in São Tomé is a world heritage site. It is one of the last jewels in the world, so it must be everyone’s concern, not just the concern of people living on the island. Its an international responsibility.
Despite the growing demographic pressure, São Tomé forest remains some of the best preserved in the world, listed as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.