MONROVIA: A survey conducted by environmental and conservation groups, the Collaborating Conservation Organizations, shows that many animals and plants living in upper Guinea forest find their last home in Liberia as many of these plants and animals are internationally threatened.
The group named elephants, pygmy hippos, forest-dwelling chimpanzees, as well as many other species including duikers and monkeys that are internationally protected and that many of the natural habitats in Liberia are still unexplored with a plan of carry our future research that might discover more species.
The collaborating organizations including Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection, Conservation International, Fauna and Flora International, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, World Resources Institute, and AMBERO Consulting GmbH/GIZ.
The Collaboration amongst the various Conservation groups is part of effort to strengthen their approaches and engagements with the Forestry Development Authority aimed at crafting and promoting innovative conservation activities in Liberia to help stabilize the effects of climate change.
As part of their work and activities in the forest sector of Liberia, the collaborating Conservation Organizations spelled out their successes scored in 2017 and the opportunities that lie ahead of them in 2018.
Some of the successes as the Liberia Forest Sector Project which is being funded by the Norwegian government in the tone of US$ 150 million over a period of 5 years and the American and German governments recent investment of more than US$ 10 million in the conservation of various forest landscapes in north-western and south-eastern Liberia.
Successes including; Law Enforcement, combating against Illegal Wildlife Trade, in Protected Area Management, the creation of livelihoods and jobs for local communities, in tourism, awareness raising and environmental education, in the support for and development of national and international Initiatives and strategies, in Community Forestry and capacity building.
They attributed their successes in 2017 to the change in mindset by forest dependent Communities and lauded the current management teams of the Forestry Development Authority and Environmental Protection Agency for their willingness support to work along with the various conservation organizations.
“The new mindset is promoting the rights of local communities and values the local expertise for the management of natural resources.”
“Conservation in Liberia is no longer government alone business but the holistic involvement and participation of the local population, especially through the conservation NGOs.”
The eight Organizations is commending current management teams at FDA and the EPA for turning conservation in Liberia to a new, more promising page, leading to a more sustainable management of natural resources owing to the involvement of the local communities in the process.
The Conservation NGOs disclosed that in 2017, they collaborated with the FDA and EPA to increase engagements into other areas of strong international interest and concern, especially law enforcement and Illegal Wildlife Trade.
In a joint report the CCOs said the establishment of the Liberia National Species Working Group in 2017 was another boast to the Forestry Sector of Liberia owing to its unique structure comprising national and international organizations and conservation partners.
“The group is divided into four sub-committees including Law Enforcement, Bio-monitoring, Animals and Plants.”
“The Liberian model is currently being replicated in other West African countries.”
The FDA and related agencies are doing all to combat local and global Illegal Wildlife Trade and create protected wildlife forums, workshops, and other initiatives and program for implementation.
Initial funding has been secured for setting up a formal nationwide Confiscation Unit including FDA, LNP, RIA and Seaport Agencies.
In 2017 the National Legislature passed into law the Grebo-Krahn National Park, Liberia’s 3rd National Park, following the establishment of the Gola Forest National Park 2016.
Benefits of the law will see protected areas develop for the benefit of biodiversity and local people within the next two years.
The proposed areas are Wologizi, Foya and Krahn-Bassa.
As part of plans for Capacity building, institutional training for community forestry management structures, access to information and data management are future areas of concern for FDA, EPA and their partners.
Conservation and community forestry projects usually include the training of FDA staff and community members in a large variety of topics, for example in the use of computers and software, financial management, field methodologies, natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, data access and management and protected area management.
In 2017, a GIS lab has been established at the EPA for mangrove monitoring and EPA staffs have been trained in geographic information systems.
Together with partners, FDA secured funding to build up and maintain an urgently needed National Biodiversity Database.
Two Sanctuaries, the Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary and the sanctuary of the Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection became fully operational in 2017.
More than 10 chimpanzees, a critically endangered and internationally protected species, as well as 75 other animals, including 11 pangolins, also an internationally protected and highly trafficked species, were confiscated in 2017.
FDA, LNP, the local community and the official Chimpanzee Protection Organization in 2017 rescue and confiscate an illegally held chimpanzee and charge offenders based on the Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Act of 2017.