Int’l Support for Mangrove Forests Conservation Begins

Mangroves store more carbon per unit area than any other ecosystem on Earth.

A one-day steering committee meeting which focused on how Liberia could judiciously expend the EU US$125,000 mangrove forests (wetlands) conservation grant was on Tuesday August 31, 2021 held in Monrovia.

Chaired and co-chaired by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 15-member committee includes Conservation International (CI), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Nana Lodge, Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), and Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). Others are the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Liberia Land Authority (LLA), National Fishery & Aquaculture Authority (NAFAA), LIMA, universities, NGOs, and faith-based organizations, etc.     

The Liberia platform shall coordinate and monitor all project activities, serve as the lead advocate for the project, serve as a decision-making platform on the review and validation of project outcome and the exchange of experiences to ensure cross-fertilization of ideas that will support project success. 

The Project Manager for Wetlands International Africa, Alhaji Malikie Siaka, provided detailed insight into the project including the ToRs of the committee, project updates and the necessary mechanisms required to successfully implement the project. He stressed the obvious natural significance of wetlands as far as the provision of ecosystem services to communities, nations and the rest of the world are concerned and hoped that Liberia will utilize the opportunity efficiently.  

For his part, the Liberia project coordinator, Osuman Kiazolu, said the project is intended for inclusiveness whereby local community representation will highly be needed. According to him, the project area covers about 97,159 ha currently. He said the committee members will be trained in fundraising, leadership, and governance as well as mangrove conservation and techniques. He also said that ecosystem training is underway at the Forestry Training Institute (FTI), in Tubmanburg, Bomi County.                 

In his earlier opening remarks, FDA Deputy Managing Director for Operations, Joseph J. Tally, welcomed the committee members and challenged them to muster the courage and multiply efforts in making sure that Liberia’s platform meets donor’s expectations.  Mr. Tally assured that FDA as chair of the committee will work assiduously with other partners to achieve the desired goal of the project.    

 On December 5, 2020, the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Wetlands International Africa (WIA) jointly conducted a one-day workshop held at Lake Piso in Grand Cape Mount County where stakeholders were urged to submit proposals for the use of euros 9,900,000 grant provided by the European Union to promote, protect and conserve wetlands in nine (9) West African countries including Liberia. The application for the grant began December 20, 2020-January 20, 2021, and Liberia became victorious.  

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) will implement the project entitled: “Managing Mangrove Forests from Senegal to Benin,” including the grand Mano landscape of Sierra Leone and Liberia through Wetlands International Africa (WIA), and the Collection of five (5) Deltas who are co-applicants of the fund. The project will ensure the sustainability of Regional Governance of Protected Areas in West Africa; specifically, it will link governance and production systems with mangrove conservation at the territorial level and is expected to achieve integrated protection of the diversity and fragile mangrove ecosystems and their greater resilience to climate change. 

Furthermore, a grant mechanism to support local initiatives aimed at biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources on a landscape level also contains the project’s goal. It equally focuses on supporting local initiatives for biodiversity conservation, monitoring, resource development, training as well as the establishment of new protected areas with the view to effectively contribute to the resilience of mangrove ecosystems and the social-economic well-being of communities in the sub-region. 

 Essentially, the workshop developed a national platform including the establishment of both steering and technical committee members to include Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, Agriculture, Mines and Energy, Justice, CBOs, Academia, National Fishery & Aquaculture Authority (NAFAA), amongst others to ensure the effective and timely implementation of the project.