The European Union, one of Liberia’s development partners investing heavily in the forest sector in the country has now set aside a grant of 9,900,000 Euros for investment in awareness about the protection of wetlands across the country, mainly the mangrove swamp areas.
According to environmental scientists, the mangrove plant absorbs about 50% of carbon dioxide emitted into the air while the swamp itself serves as a breeding place for the fishes and other aquatic animals. The Mangrove, therefore, is essential natural vegetation that helps humans in the fight against climate change, caused by carbon emissions. However, the life of this vital plant is threatened especially in Liberia, as human activities including the building of shelters on wetlands and pollution of the water and swamp with human and material waste continue daily.
The 9,900,000 Euros grant, meant for wetlands promotion, protection and conservation in nine West African Countries was made known at a one-day workshop at Lake Piso, Grand Cape Mount County, and was jointly conducted by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Wetlands International Africa (WIA) on December 5, 2020.
According to a release from the FDA, stakeholders are now called to submit proposals amid the provision of this grant to begin work and use of the money not later than December 20, 2020 to January 20, 2021 in line with its urgency.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN) will implement the project entitled: “Managing Mangrove Forests from Senegal to Benin,” including the grand Mano landscape of Sierra Leone and Liberia through Wetlands International Africa (WIA) and the 5 Deltas Collective, who are co-applicants of the fund. The project will ensure the sustainability of Regional Governance of Protected Areas in West Africa. Specifically, it will link governance and production systems with mangrove conservation at the territorial land and is expected to achieve integrated protection of the diversity and fragile mangrove ecosystems and their greater resilience to climate change.
Furthermore, a grant mechanism to support local initiatives, aimed at biodiversity conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources on a landscape level, also contains the project’s goal. It equally focuses on supporting local initiatives for biodiversity conservation, monitoring, resource development, training as well as the establishment of new protected areas with the view to effectively contribute to the resilience of mangrove ecosystems and the socio-economic well-being of communities in the sub-region.
The release indicated that the workshop essentially developed a national platform including the establishment of both steering and technical committee members to include the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs, Agriculture, Mines and Energy, and of Justice; CBOs, Academia, National Fisheries & Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA), amongst others, to ensure the effective and timely implementation of the project.
In separate opening remarks, the Executives of Wetlands International Africa (WIA) Alhaji Siaka and Papa Mawade Wade, Project Manager and Project Director respectively, admonished the Liberian stakeholders to ambitiously clutch the opportunity with innovative ideas and desirable proposals that could win the donor’s confidence in the wake of the grant and its intended purpose. Both men acknowledged and applauded the consciousness of the participants judging from their desire for the protection and conservation of wetlands and biodiversity. They used the occasion to announce a subsequent meeting slated to be held in Sierra Leone on January 21, 2021, which will mark the official validation of a trans-boundary platform.
For his part, Grand Cape mount County Development Superintendent, Bioma Kamara, has offered to be an ambassador in support of the successful outcome of the project, while describing Grand cape mount as a land blessed with rich natural resources and where nature remains richly outstanding. He pledged the county Administration’s unflinching support to the project and thanked the partners and donors for the efforts, which he believes will be socially and economically healthy for Liberia, Grand Cape Mount in particular.
The FDA Managing Director, C. Mike Doryern, speaking through the Regional Forester, Ruth Varney, officially tossed the call for project proposals from the stakeholders in the wake of the grant. Madam Varney labeled the project as a golden opportunity for Liberia while encouraging the stakeholders to be determined in making sure that the national dream and vision of biodiversity conservation is upheld to the letter. She said FDA was in the middle of the dance as it relates to conservation and protection of nature.
Meanwhile, the stakeholders have unreservedly embraced the project and promised to gallop for the grant opportunity consistent with the requirements attached within the specified time. They also called for the government’s political will in the implementation of the project. FDA, EPA, MoJ, MoFA, were placed in the driver’s seat at both the technical and steering committees as policy and technical decision-makers during the lifetime of the project.