EU-FUNDED PROJECT ON COMBATING WILDLIFE AND FOREST CRIME CELEBRATES ACHIEVEMENTS
The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Hon. C. Mike Doryen has commended the European Union Delegation for its support to the FDA and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) and partners.
Hon. Doryen also expressed the hope for continued cordial working relations between the FDA and partner institutions for the numerous years of collaboration. The FDA boss called for the establishment of a National Community Eco guard Service in the Liberian Forest Sector.
According to Hon. Doryen, there is also a need to have community members near the forested areas to help protect Liberia’s proposed Protected Areas. He said under the government program, the (FDA) will allow Community Eco guard activities in all landscapes in the Liberian forest.
The FDA Managing Director made the statement on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at Libassa Ecolodge, Kpan’s Town, Margibi County, during the official closing of phase one of the EU-funded project in Liberian, entitled ‘‘Strengthening local communities and the law enforcement network to combat wildlife and forest crime in Liberia’’. The monetary value of the project is EUR1,875,000 of which EUR1,500 came from the European Union, while EUR 375,000 came from the co-funding of partner institutions. The project has been led by the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) while project partners were the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection (LCRP), Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary (LiWiSa), and the Loyal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Besides more than 200 community members engaged as community Ecogaurds around (proposed) protected areas in northwestern and southeastern Liberia, as well as 34 female bushmeat sellers who were of a community volunteer program in Monrovia and Paynesville, the main beneficiaries of the project were the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the Forestry Training Institution (FTI), the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ministry of Justice, and the Liberia National Police through the Transnational Organized Crime Unit and Interpol.
For her part, the Country Director for Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), Dr.Annika Hillers, said the project brought together many partner institutions and other stakeholders
Dr. Hillers thanked the (FDA) Wildlife Confiscation Unit, the core member of the National Wildlife Crime Task Force that was established and operationalized by the project, for its hard work on the field and expressed the hope for a renewed project from the level of the European Union.
She thanked the former female bush meat seller in the community volunteer program for their tireless efforts in protecting the sale of bush meat (wildlife). She also commented on other achievements, particularly the establishment of the national Community Eco guard program which had been polite at Grebo-Krahn National Park since 2014.The project helps WCF and partners to support about 250 community Eco guards across Liberia through collaboration with community members.
In a brief statement, the Board Chairman of FDA, Hon. Harrison S. Karnwea,Sr. thanked all forest donor partners that assisted in the area of conservation. Hon. Karnwea said awareness should be based on climate change-related effects on the global community.The FDA board chairman also called for the safety of all forest-protected areas and further urged everyone to be a tourism ambassador to the Liberian forest.Hon. Karnwea said doing so will encourage more investors in Liberia and help in raising more revenue for the government.
In a welcome remark, the Executive Director of the Society for Conservation of Nature (SCL), Michael F. Garbo, recognized all partners and said the bush meat trade has been reduced for the past three and half years through the support of the European Union to Liberia and believed that the project has done what they could do and prayed for a renewed program under the same EU project soon.
Meanwhile, the European Union Program Manager, Stephan Cocco, deputizing for the keynote speaker (EU Ambassador), commended the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) Country Director Dr. Annika Hillers for her hard work, as well as other partners for their support. He said Liberia owns many key necessities, and abundant natural resources, unlike many other countries around the world. “Species of wildlife are unique to Liberia, the natural heritage can contribute to the development and the growth of Liberia,” he added.
Mr. Cocco also noted that having the political will is the highest level to save Liberia’s unique forest, and biodiversity and to ratify many international conventions, including the biodiversity convention and the implementation to improve the governance of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA ) in the Liberian Forestry sectors.
The president of the Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), Mrs. Elizabeth Sambolah assured the FDA and partners, that the bush meat trade will reduce from 50 percent to 75 percent before the end of August 2022. She promised to work with her marketers from now to August.
Hon. Prince Tokpah, Chairman of House Committee Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, thanked the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and its partners for their hard work in the forest and asked that Superintendents and other government officials must stand tall with FDA and WCF in the protection of Liberia’s wildlife in the Liberian forest.
Also speaking, Margibi County Senator, Dr. Jim W. Tornonlah, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, said promoting the idea of discouraging the destruction of the bush meat trade is very welcoming.
Senator Tornonlah described the change as something that is good but equally painful. He also called on partners to step up their gains to support the protection of wildlife in Liberia and urged the Ministry of Internal Affairs to have a focal person to work with the FDA in the rural parts of Liberia to prosecute violators.