Mr. Blamah Sando Goll, technical manager at the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), has said that effective collaboration with international partners has considerably minimized illegal hunting and gold mining activities in the Sapo National Park (SNP) in Sinoe County.
Goll made the conclusion when he spoke to the Daily Observer on Monday, January 21, following a recent tour of the park with a team of three leading conservation groups – Fiona, Flora International, and Partners in Development.
He added that Partners in Development is setting up conservation clubs in community schools in the SNP to teach science courses in conservation aimed at sustainable protection of the park.
Besides, Mr. Goll said the group is working to set up local governance structures also geared towards protecting the park.
He said poachers, miners and commercial bush meat traders have resurfaced in the Park, but said the area is still in the hands of FDA rangers, who have minimized illegal activities.
He said his entourage hosted several meetings with local chiefs and stakeholders and got firsthand information of the Park and its environs, but said outside the SNP, rangers have seen commercial hunters and bush meat traders carrying out their respective activities.
Mr. Goll said three management zones have been established to monitor the activities of the park, and that six rangers’ outposts have been established for the day to day patrol, awareness and other routine checks around the Park.
He said at the moment, 170 persons have been deployed as official rangers for the project intervention.
“Our rangers are not like the regional forest rangers in terms of carrying firearms that will help to fight illegal poachers, miners and other forms of trade,” he said.
However, Mr. Goll noted that the managing director of the FDA C. Mike Doryen and his team have been holding discussions with officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) in a bid to buttress the effort of the forest agency by protecting all parks in the country.
Goll said the country’s Forest Sector Project, including the REDD+ arm at the FDA, has hired a consulting firm to conduct an assessment needs of forest dwellers and determine their actual needs as opposed to giving them handouts.
He said Partners in Development, headed by Nobeh Jackson, has a project with the forest dwellers in vegetable production as a means for alternative livelihood instead of always depending on forest resources for their livelihoods at the various parks.
Besides, the group has provided some training for forest dwellers and when they happen to leave, those trained (residents) will be able to sustain and maintain the production of whatever livelihood activities they were taught in Sinoe County.
On the status of the wildlife in the park, Mr. Goll said the FDA is involved with monitoring activities, awareness, and livelihood programs around the park and with Ivorian authorities, regarding Tyee National Park.
He disclosed that negotiations are ongoing among Guinean and Ivorian governments regarding the protection of the Wonegizi and East Nimba Reserve and modalities are expected to be worked out some agreement with those countries for the protection of Liberia’s wildlife forest areas.