---Want partners to practically meet the needs of the communities
A five-year strategic management plan designed to ensure an effective administration of the Grebo/Krahn National Park (GKNP) consistent with internationally acceptable standards and protocol has been approved by multinational stakeholders in Monrovia on December 8, 2021, at a well-attended conference.
This exercise follows the regional validation component held in Fish Town, River Gee County on April 19, 2021, during a one-day conference attended by senior local authorities from River Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties as well as traditional council members, representatives from the towns and villages bordering the park, conservation partners, joint security representatives, amongst others.
The multinational validation exercise follows months of regional consultations, social and economic survey, amongst other community engagements in Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties respectively by the Forestry Development Authority and its traditional partners including, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) and the German Incorporated (GIZ).
Momentarily, WCF renders Eco guard services and other essential livelihood projects in these areas.
Essentially, the park has over 300 fauna and 270 flora, some animals including West African chimpanzees, pigmy hippopotamus leopards, and forest elephants, etc. are endemic, critically endangered, vulnerable and threatened.
The International Consultant, Dr. Ron Tarmar presented to the body the management plan which embodies at least 12 thematic steps that principally consider community empowerment such as substantive benefits that could improve the living standard of community dwellers, sustainable management of the natural resources, amongst several other opportunities.
For his part, the National Consultant Richard Sambolah made a comprehensive presentation including salient recommendations for the effective growth and protection of the park.
Amongst other points, it was recommended that FDA and conservation partners increase staffing for effective implementation for current and future activities in the landscape; provide a budget for park operation; provide patrol ration to enhance patrol and monitoring in the park; provide adequate logistics (fuel, vehicle etc.) and construct housing facilities for park management team; strengthen collaboration and coordination amongst law enforcement agencies and lastly prioritize and increase community sustainable livelihoods that will impact fringe communities.
Although the plan was approved at the multinational stakeholder’s level to supplement the regional validation, the participants stressed the need for the partners to do tangible projects including roads, schools, food production, health, etc. to avoid a possible temptation that could lead the people to undermine the park in search of livelihood.
One participant said, “If you don’t want the cat to eat the fish, tell the fish not to smell.” It goes to say that if the park is to standing unharmed, there is a need for the partners to ensure that the needs of the people are met in all respects.
Making remarks, FDA Board Chairman, Harrison S. Karnwea, Sr. highly cherished the international partners for the efforts exerted over the years and called on them to keep lobbying for more support for Liberia towards the conservation of the forest.
He expressed excitement that gradually “we are getting there” and hoped that every term and condition laid down in the management plan will be actualized.
Mr. Karnwea thanked the citizens of River Gee and Grand Gedeh Counties for their cooperation that has and continues to save the life of the park.
Earlier, FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen expressed his happiness in that during his tenure as managing director, there is marked international goodwill for the protection of the forest and hoped Liberia will embrace this goodwill to benefit today and future generation.
He thanked the traditional leaders and the county authorities for the patience and maturity exercised during the process especially at a time when violence and conflicts have become the way of life for some people.
He is confident that in the next five years the nation will begin to abundantly reap the fruits while challenging Liberians to take ownership of the forest by keeping it protected.