Affected communities surrounding the recently established Grebo/Krahn National Park have reaffirmed their commitment to honor the controlling law, while at the same time promising to abide by all that is required to keep the park alive as per vision set by the government and partners.
On December 18, 2017, the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) established Grebo/Krahn National Park following a meeting in Fish Town, River Gee County that brought together community residents and stakeholders in the forest sector.
According an FDA release, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), AHT and Ambero/GIZ, are partners that have been generating efforts to assist the affected communities ahead of the physical demarcation exercises. It can be recalled that stakeholders, who attended the Fish Town conference at which the affected communities were duly represented, agreed in principle to draw a measurable boundary line separating the community forest from that of the park.
The physical demarcation exercises, which will last for 68 days, the release said, are due to commence any time soon now that the awareness raising process has successfully ended. The awareness team comprised representatives from the Awareness and Ecotourism Division, Public Affairs Division, the office of the Regional Forester, all from the FDA, as well as others from the WCF and GIZ/Ambero.
There were six town hall meetings held in the affected communities beginning with Grand Gedeh County, and lastly River Gee County.
After the affected communities realized the future benefits to be harvested from the park, and further acknowledged it as a treasure of the state, Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties representatives said the park will go a long way, not only as sanctuary for the generation of protected animals, but to equally serve as beautiful inheritance for successive generations.
“Let’s keep the Park as though it is your wife,” commented Jacob Nimely, one of the chief elders in River Gee County. Elder Nimely made the comment in a Town Hall meeting held in U-bor Town, River Gee County.
He then cautioned his fellow residents to understand the value and relevance of the park, while encouraging them to be committed to the rules set forth by the government to guide the park. Nimely believes and also confidently estimates that abundant benefits await once the rules setting the park are obeyed accordingly.
In Fishtown, the Chief Elder of Prowlekan Chiefdom, James Pah Sayee, hailed the idea of the creation of the park and admonished government and partners to ensure that the controlling law is made uncompromisingly strong and that all would-be violators be made to bear the full weight of the law as it is practiced in other parts of the world if the efforts exerted by the government and partners to create the park will live to see their intended purpose.
Sayee cited several examples and experiences of other countries where compliance with the law has shifted dream and vision in a positive direction thereby lawfully protecting endangered animals.
He, however, blamed the government of Liberia for being weak in the application of the law in almost all levels in society, something he said must be aborted by policy makers. In separate remarks, the affected community’s residents utterly advanced ‘safety and security measures’ that will practically ensure that the intent for which the park was created does not crash-land.
They then called on the FDA to ensure that all partners involved with the creation of the park are truthful, trustful and practical in fulfilling their promises to lay the basis for a sustained corridor whereby the means and options of livelihood will be available to them.
Under the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) implemented by the REDD+ implementation Unit (RIU), authorities at the Ministry of Agriculture have encouraged rural dwellers to build cocoa nurseries for farmers in the affected communities.
At the same time, the Acting Statutory Superintendent of Konobo District, Grand Gedeh County, Allen Quaye has barred with immediate effect all strangers from entering and hunting in the forest in Konobo District.
The circular addressed to all district commissioners ordered the immediate cessation of hunting and setting traps in the forest as doing so will undermine the efforts geared at protecting biodiversity culture as far as the ideology of conservation is concerned.
On August 17, 2018 the government passed a bill officially designating 96,149.89 hectares (237,591. 55 acres forest of GKNP, which is the third national park, and the fifth protected area in Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties.