Liberia: FDA, Partners Adopt Resolution to Protect Gola Forest

The Liberia Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL) have passed resolutions to protect and manage the Gola Forest Landscape, which is on the border between Liberia and Sierra Leone. 

The resolution calls for transboundary initiatives to be supported and collaborated on, as well as the formation of an intergovernmental coordination committee. It  was signed at Libassa Ecolodge  in Marshall, Margibi County, during the Gola Transboundary Technical Sub-committee Meeting held between host countries. 

Also, the agreement supports the full implementation of the 2011 and 2019 Mano River Union (MRU) agreement between the governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone, as well as the establishment of joint transboundary patrols and the development of a plan for the Greater Gola Landscape in accordance with the attached roadmap/action plan.

The Gola Forest Landscape is part of the Support Programme for the Preservation of Forest Ecosystems in West Africa (PAPFor), an EU-funded project that began in 2020 to work with West African governments, institutions, and people on natural resource conservation and management, as well as the region's growing rate of deforestation, degradation, and biodiversity loss.

The project was founded on the recognition of the importance of the Guinea Tropical Rainforests, both upper and lowerland types, in preserving biodiversity, providing climate change resilience, and supporting human livelihoods for commercial and domestic needs of timber, food, fiber, and medicine, as well as providing ecosystem services such as soil, water, and a healthy atmosphere.

The Gola Forest Landscape, one of six PAPFors funded projects that spans the Sierra Leone-Liberia border, comprises 350,000 acres. It is the upper Guinea Forest's largest remaining block. The Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP), the Kambui Hills Forest Reserve, and the Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary are all part of it in Sierra Leone. The Gola Forest National Park (GFNP), the Foya Proposed Protected Area (FPPA), and the neighboring community forest areas in six Liberian counties are included.

It is home to at least 60 endangered species, including the Zebra Duiker, Red Colobus, Western Pied Colobus, Pangolin, Elephant, and the world’s largest western chimpanzee. 

FDA Director for Operations, Joseph Tally, noted in his opening remarks that the conversation on how to properly manage the landscape of Liberia and Sierra Leone is critical and will benefit inhabitants in both countries.

West Africa Biodiversity Low Emissions Development WABiLED County Manager, Kumeh S. Assaf, vowed that his organization will assist the Gola Transboundary Process in order to obtain conservation benefits.

He urged both countries to boost law enforcement by bolstering various wildlife crime-fighting teams.

Assaf stressed the importance of this process including landscape capacity building, transboundary management agreements, and private sector involvement.

He believes that once in place, these methods will assist participants in achieving the goal of the Gola Landscape Transboundary Cooperation between Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Marc Languy, Coordinator, PAPFor Project, said the project aims to ensure that the forest is preserved, supported and human capacity is developed around protected areas.

Languy went on to say that forest management and protection remain a top priority for the EU, and that the Gola Landscape, among other things, should drive cross-management cooperation in Liberia.

The procedure leading to the signing of the resolution on the Gola Transboundary Cooperation, according to SCNL Executive Director Michael Garbo, is for the good of both countries.

He praised partners for their assistance in reaching such a decision and urged participants to keep their heads up and contribute more to the partnership.

The MOU lays forth a plan for the cooperative management and conservation of the forest, among other things.