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Forest Giants: a story to be told



Forest Giants is a conservation project for the protection of the threatened land snail, the Obô Giant Snail Archachatina bicarinata, which is rapidly declining in Sao Tome and Principe. With this project we want to highlight the importance and impact of research storytelling to new conservation projects in the search for audience, interest and most importantly potential funding. Based upon the research of a master thesis and using modern storytelling tools – such as 1) photography, 2) video, 3) animation and 4) social media – together with interactive school lectures and debates among communities we developed a project that has a) positive feedback from communities and schools b) international exposure c) interest from local and international media, and d) local and international partnerships with governamental institutions, NGO’s and private enterprises. Hereby, we highlight the importance of storytelling to leverage the impact of conservation projects.
Time to act
The place
The islands of São Tomé
and Príncipe are
internationally recognized
for the remarkable number
of unique species. Most of
the islands’ endemics are
found in the
native forests.
Overharvesting, coupled with habitat
loss and the introduction of invasive
species, has led to the rapid decline
of the Obô Snail populations.
People showed interest in understanding
why the snail is disappearing, so we
decided to help them see they are part
of the story and of the solution.
The Obô Snail, Archachatina bicarinata (Bruguière, 1792), is a
giant land snail that only lives in São Tomé and Príncipe
islands’ native forest. Traditionally used for food and
medicinal purposes, the populations of this giant have
dwindled since the 1980’s. After several surveys in the
forests and interviews with local population we
discovered a dramatic scenario.
1. Research storytelling seems more efficient than fact
2. Games and other dynamics facilitate the storytelling
3. Engaging the audience as storytellers seems to
increase the general attention of the audience and
acceptance of the content.
Since September 2018, the story of the Obô
Snail has visited 28 local communities in
São Tomé Island, engaging primary school
students, teachers, eco-guides, community
members, governmental and non-governmental
Digitally, we have more than 1500
followers on social media, and individual
posts can reach up to 3500 people organi-
The story
The approach
and video
*this graph does not
include audience
from Tv and Radio
Social media
Based on our research and local knowledge,
we used these tools to raise awareness and
seek solutions for protecting the species,
acting as external facilitators to
stimulate an environment of open discussion
between generations.
*We are currently assessing the efficiency
of some of these activities as non-conten-
cional teaching methods.
online followers
Funded by:
adults and children
in communities
the impact of
as a tool to
native forest
conservation projects
Vasco Pissarra, Martina Panisi, Beatriz Narciso, Catarina Narciso,
Gabriel Oquiongo, Ricardo de Lima, Wilson Vieira.
Forest Giants: A Story to be told
5 2,4
2,4 3 4
1 - MARE (Marine and Environmental Science Centre)
2 - CE3C (Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes)
3 - Escola Secundária António Arroio
4 - FCUL (Faculty of Science, University of Lisbon)
5 - Associação Monte Pico
6 - Max Planck Institute
Forest Giants Project
Supported by: Admninistered by:
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