The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) is heavily challenged especially in terms of having the manpower to watch the forest and prevent illegal activities from taking place there. It may be recalled that recently FDA Managing Director, C. Mike Doryen, disclosed illegal mining activities taking place in the Gola National Park, a huge portion of the Guinea Forest belt shared by Liberia and Sierra Leone.
According to the FDA Managing Director, a miner in this forest who calls himself “County” is challenging anyone to face him in the forest with the intent of removing him—statement which suggests that this illegal miner has manpower equally to counter forest rangers or any force that may go to counter his activities.
Although Managing Director Doryen assured recently that the FDA and the governments are equally devising strategies to halt the activities in the Gola forest, one of the strategies, perhaps, is the fact that the British Government has unveiled itself to help train Liberian Forest Rangers to have the technical capacities to tackle this confronting issue.
At least 10 rangers from Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) headed by the Manager of the Confiscation Unit Alis Kais have begun a three-week long advanced training course that could equip them ably counter illegal wildlife trade among other forest related crimes.
The training is being held in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and it began since March 2 and is running up to 27, 2020. The rangers are among hundred others including law enforcement officials drawn from across the Mano River Union (MRU) region. The training package and all related costs are being shouldered by the British government, something the management of the Forestry Development Authority described as highly commendable.
It can be recalled that last year British Ambassador to Liberia, David Belgrove promised his government’s commitment to provide advanced training for Liberia’s forest rangers and sharpen their skills to combat forest crimes consistent with the global tenet of conservation of nature. Ambassador Belgrove’s commitment followed a request by FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen for the critical need for advanced trainings among other things to equip Liberia’s Forest Rangers like is done in other countries to enable them effectively fight wildlife and forest crimes.
He told the Ambassador at the time that advanced training for the forest rangers will help them become more vigorous in securing the forest especially at this time when the habits of poaching and illegal killing of wildlife has become the way of life for some ill-intent people, which he noted grossly undermines the work of the FDA.
Meanwhile, FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen has extended his warm gratitude to the British Government through Ambassador Belgrove for the gesture he described as worthy and timely gesture, especially at a time when FDA is focused on conservation efforts in collaboration of all its traditional partners. He then hoped for more of such support from the British government in subsequent time.
Liberia owns 43% of the Upper Guinea Forest in Sub-Saharan West Africa, and some portions of the forest have been set aside for conservation purpose to protect wildlife and economic species of plants.
Conserved forests in Liberia include the Gio National Forest, 327 square kilometers in Nimba County; Gola National Forest, 2,202 square kilometers in Gbarpolu County; Grebo National Forest, 2,806 square kilometers in River Gee County, and the Kpelle National Forest, 1,748 square kilometers in Gbarpolu County.
Others also include the Belle National Forest, 609 square kilometers in Gbarpolu; Gbi National Forest, 607 square kilometers in Nimba County, Krahn-Bassa National Forest, 5,816 square kilometers in Sinoe; Lorma National Forest, 987 square kilometers in Bong County, Nimba National Forest, 187 square kilometers in Nimba County; North Lorma National Forest in Lofa County, and the Sapo National Forest in Sinoe County.
These conserved forests have been hampered mainly by hunters, loggers and miners as reports have suggested over time.