Liberia: FDA Encourages Private Sector Investment in Ecotourism
Monrovia – In an effort to ensure the proper management of the Gola Forest National Park, the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), C. Mike Doryeh, is calling for greater private sector involvement in the process to help change the face of the forestry sector by investing into ecotourism for the common good of the country.
Doryen said the time has now come for Liberia to go beyond creating National Park by adding value to the already existing ones through innovative programs that will serve as income generating avenue for the people of Liberia.
The Gola Forest is the nation’s second national park after the Sapo National Park that was established in 1983.
Currently, Liberia has about three national parks Gola Forest National Park, Sapo National Park, and Grebo-Krahn National Park located in Western and South-eastern Liberia respectively.
He said the FDA under his watch is no more interested in symbolic approaches that had yielded no tangible results in the past, and emphasized the need for the private sector to take advantage of the forestry sector owing to the fact that the sector has huge potential for ecotourism development.
Mr. Doryeh stressed the need for the private sector to take ownership of national parks by engaging into program that will show case the country’s unique biodiversity to the rest of the world.
He noted that the presence of the private sector in all protected areas to engage ecotourism will reduce illicit activities and scare away intruders from misusing those national parks.
The FDA Managing Director spoke Tuesday, April 30, in Monrovia at a one-day national validation workshop on the Draft Management Plan of the Gola Forest National Park.
The workshop was organized by the FDA in partnership with the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL) with support from RAINFOREST Trust, United States Agency for International Development through the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Project and the World Bank.
The FDA boss urged the private sector not to rely on the NGOs alone in utilizing the country’s forest sector, but to also consider themselves as a part of the sector aimed at undertaking activities that will serve as conduit of creating jobs for the ordinary Liberians.
Doryen pledged FDA support to the Society for the Conservation of Nature, which is leading the process of developing the Management Plan of the Gola Forestry National Park.
The Deputy Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, Randell Dubayou, said Liberia is the face of biodiversity in West Africa as such the killing of un-replaceable spices should not be condoned.
Dubayou also assured the EPA’s willingness to continuously work with the forestry sector of Liberia for the benefit of every Liberian.
He said the killing of protected animals is unlawful arguing that illegal logging, commercial and illicit mining, bush meat hunting and weak governance at Liberia’s border with Sierra Leone are factors undermining the concept of sustainable forest management in Liberia.
He wants FDA and partners take into consideration factors that are serving as impediment to concept of sustainable forest management and institute policy and program that will address those issues.
He recommended to the FDA to now auction all bush meat that will be confiscated from those involved in bush meat trade, instead of burning those confiscated meat. According to him, doing so, will discourage bush meat trade and also bring income to the FDA.
Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia Executive Director Michael F. Garbo admonished the FDA to now take the Gola Forest Management Plan for final cleaning and ensure that the document is applied for the management of the park.
“We have now done our part, and we are giving the plan to FDA to work on it,” Garbo said.
He expressed his delight on the reviewed of the documents and inputs made by various stakeholders in the forestry sector of Liberia.
He noted that with the coming into force of the document, the Gola Forest National Park will properly be managed amid support of the local communities in Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount Counties.
Garbo commended efforts by the stakeholders to take their busy times on to review the final draft of the park document.
The lead consultant to the drafting of the Park Management Plan, Samuel Kofi, said so much research was put in the crafting of the Park document, taking into consideration infrastructure, protection, and livelihood amongst others. The one-day validation workshop on the development of the Gola Forest National Park brought together stakeholders in the forest sector including representatives from Conservation International, Fauna and Flora, World Resource Institute-Liberia Office, West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABiCC) project, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Forestry Development Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency amongst Others.