Liberia, Sierra Leone Sign Gola Transboundary Forest MOU

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Monrovia – The Governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will commit the two countries to protecting the Gola Transboundary Forest Landscape. Foreign Minister Gbezhongar Findley signed on behalf of Liberia while Sam King Brima, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Agriculture, signed on behalf of Sierra Leone.


Report by Henry Karmo, [email protected]


The current MOU was first inked in October 2011. These specific amendments will focus on the shared responsibilities for the conservation and management of the forest.

The forest landscape, also known as the Gola Transboundary Peace Park, is home to the Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone and the Gola Forest National Park in Liberia. Together, the forests span more than 350,000 hectares and represent one of the largest remaining blocks of the Upper Guinea Forest. 

When other smaller forests are considered, including community forests and the proposed Foya Nature Reserve in Liberia, this massive forest landscape measures more than 600,000 hectares, equivalent to more than one million football fields.

Recognized as a biodiversity hotspot, these shared forests are home to more than 899 vascular plants, 49 mammals, 327 bird species, and 43 amphibians. Many of the wildlife and plants are threatened or critically endangered, including rosewood, the forest elephant, West African chimpanzee, western red colobus monkey, and pygmy hippopotamus. 

The forest landscape, also known as the Gola Transboundary Peace Park, is home to the Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone and the Gola Forest National Park in Liberia. Together, the forests span more than 350,000 hectares and represent one of the largest remaining blocks of the Upper Guinea Forest. 

The forest plays a critical function through the range of ecosystem services that it provides and contributes to the mitigation of climate change impacts. Thus, its health is of global importance.

In 2011, the Presidents of Sierra Leone and Liberia signed an MOU on cooperation in the management, research, protection and conservation of the Greater Gola Transboundary Peace Park. In doing so, they noted their “mutual interest in continuing and strengthening joint management and conservation of national parks close to or contiguous with the border for the purpose of conserving shared resources and ecosystems.

However, much of the needed work by the Coordination Committee came to a standstill, including because of a lack of resources.

Understanding the importance of putting the MOU into action, the USAID-funded West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) program has been a key partner to both countries in their quest to better protect the forest. 

In 2018, WA BiCC supported a meeting of technical representatives to lay the groundwork for the first meeting of the Coordination Committee, including the development of a draft work plan. In 2019, WA BiCC supported the first meeting of the Coordination Committee in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and later played a key role in reviewing the suggested amendments.

Through signing the amendments, Sierra Leone and Liberia will refocus their efforts on preserving their shared resource. Together, they will seek to curtail the main drivers of the forest’s continued degradation and biodiversity loss, including illegal hunting and poaching, mining, pit logging, and agricultural encroachment.

WA BiCC is excited to witness the signing of the amendments, and through its own work and that of its grantee, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, will continue to collaborate with both countries to ensure the forest’s survival. 

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