The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia (SCNL) have pledged greater community involvement in the implementation of the GolaMa project.
The assurance was given recently at the third annual Steering Committee meeting held in Monrovia.
The GolaMa project is aimed at conserving an internationally important forest corridor in the Gola forest in Gbapolu County.
The project provides support to forest dependent communities to manage their own forest as well as improves livelihoods and establishes a pilot model for sustainable financing.
FDA Deputy Managing Director Bowen Sayon said the GolaMa project will be used as a flagship program to carry out other conservation projects in the forest sector of Liberia.
Mr. Bowen argued that the GolaMa project is one of the best models ever developed by SCNL and partners to conserve forest in Liberia.
He said what FDA is interested in is to develop a vibrant protected area management mechanism that takes in to account the involvement of forest dependent communities.
Mr. Sayon, however, noted that without the participation of communities in the establishment of protected areas in Liberia, it would be difficult to achieve the goal of sustainable forest management in Liberia.
He said as a result, FDA has embarked on the process of developing a protected area strategy that focuses on improving livelihood for communities and benefit sharing.
Mr. Sayon emphasized the need to develop what he calls human wildlife policy to ensure that people who are victimized by wildlife are given some kind of benefits.
Also speaking, SCNL Executive Director Michael Garbo disclosed that the GolaMa project is on track and that his institution remains engaged with communities, local leaders and stakeholders in the forest sector to improve the quality of work in the GolaMa corridor.
Mr. Garbo said the project is making great impact in the lives of people with the corridor and as such they have embraced the project without reservation.
Also, the Secretary General of the Steering Committee Anne Gardner said livelihood activities continue to increase with the training of cocoa and rice farmers.
Madam Gardner said the project is also training beekeepers and provide loan to women group as part of the GolaMa livelihood program.