Margibi – Society for the Conservation of Nature Liberia in collaboration with the Forestry Development Authority and partners, on Wednesday, May 11 adopted a resolution on the protection and management of the Gola Landscape Transboundary Cooperation between Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The resolution was annexed by two technical sessions on legal issues, solution and enabling framework communication and integration of security agencies, conduct and training for rangers within the context of transboundary patrol, and the need for public education and awareness on transboundary.
It further addressed the need for broader institutional cooperation, available data within each of the countries, and focus points to support landscape land use plans.
The discussion was meant to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by the EU-funded Gola PAPFor Project to provide financial and technical support for the establishment of a sub-committee to oversee transboundary work in the four areas of the management plan, law enforcement research, and ecotourism.
The resolution agrees to collaborate with the Gola-PAPFor project to establish joint transboundary patrols and develop a plan for the Greater Gola Landscape consistent with the attached roadmap/action plan.
It acknowledges the provision for the establishment of a framework for joint management and conservation of the Gola Forest, including the setting up of an intergovernmental coordination committee to direct and management of activities.
Before the signing of the resolution, Forestry Development Authority Deputy Managing Director for Operations Joseph Tally said the discussion on sustainably managing the landscape of both Liberia and Sierra Leone is cardinal.
This he believes is in the best interest of and benefits of citizens of both countries.
“The FDA seeks key interest in the management of the country’s forest for the benefit of current and future generations,” Mr. Tally averred.
For his part, the County Manager of West Africa Biodiversity Law Emissions Development Kumeh S. Assaf told a gathering at a technical sub-committee meeting held at LiBASSA Resort in Marshall, Margibi County, that WABiLED is keen on supporting the process of the Gola Transboundary process to achieve conservation benefits.
According to him, the improvement of law enforcement by supporting various units to combat wildlife crime is crucial for the management of transboundary between Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Because of the potential benefit this landscape has for both countries, Assaf sees it prudent that improvement of law enforcement should also consider the conduct of a regular patrol in Protected Areas, support of data collection of illegal activities and number of prosecutions, and strengthening of information sharing among others, as well as establish and enhance connection with facilities for the disposition of confiscated wildlife.
Additionally, he emphasized the need for this process to consider the building of capacity in landscapes, support and strengthen transboundary management arrangements and consider private sector involvement in the landscape among others.
He believes these processes, when put in place, will help actors achieve the objective of the Gola Landscape Transboundary Cooperation between Liberia and Sierra Leone.
At the same time, speaking on behalf of the European Union Delegation to Liberia, Marc Languy, Coordinator of the Preservation of Forest Ecosystem in West Africa (PAPFor) Project said the EU has been monitoring the program to ensure that forest management is of interest to both countries.
According to him, the program, which is a part of six landscape programs being implemented in Africa, especially Liberia, is aimed at ensuring that the forest is maintained, supported, and enhanced human capacity development around protected areas.
Languy further stated that florets management and protection remain a center of EU attention and that the Gola Landscape should take the lead of cross management cooperation, among other transboundary in Liberia.
Moreover, SCNL Executive Director Michael Garbo said the process leading to the signing of a resolution on the Gola Landscape Transboundary cooperation is in the best interest of both countries
Garbo lauded partners for the support to reach such a determination, urging participants to keep their heads high to do more towards the process.
The Gola Forest, covering 350,000 ha, is the largest remaining block of upper Guinea Forest encompassing the Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone (created in 2010), the Gola Forest National Park(created in 2016), and the Foya Proposed Protected Area in Liberia, as well as surrounding community forests.
Gola Forest is a biodiversity hotspot of global conservation importance as it is home to 60 species of global conservation concern.
In 2011, the governments of both Liberia and Sierra Leone signed a Memorandum of Understanding under the species of the Mano River Union and updated in 2019 and again signed in early 2020, focusing on the cooperation in the management, research, protection, and conservation of the Greater Gola Transboundary Peace Park.
In doing so, both countries noted their mutual interest in continuing and strengthening joint management and conservation of national parks close to or contiguous with the border to conserve shared resources and ecosystems.
The MOU also provides a framework for the joint management and conservation of the Gola Forest among others.
Participants at the end of the dialogue also hailed the process noting that it was the right path for which protection and management of forests can be successful.