FDA, FFI Host Two National Workshops For Pygmy Hippopotamus Conservation And Validation Of A Collaborative Management Plan for Sapo National Park

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Paticipants at the National validation of SNP management plan.

On the 30th of March 2021, the Forestry Development Authority of Liberia (FDA) in collaboration with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) held a multi-stakeholder workshop to validate the management plan for the Sapo National Park (SNP), Liberia’s oldest protected area.

The park is located in southeastern Liberia, situated in Sinoe, River Gee, and Grand Gedeh Counties. SNP is the largest protected area in Liberia and was established in 1983.

It covers an area of 1,804 km2 (180,400 ha). The park contains extremely diverse ecological communities, distinctive fauna and flora, and a mosaic of forest types.

SNP is also a ‘regional center of endemism’, i.e. an area rich in species found nowhere else. It provides refuge and serves as the last stronghold for species such as the western chimpanzee, African forest elephant, and pygmy hippopotamus, some of the most threatened species in the world.

Speaking during the event, Joseph J. Tally, Deputy Managing Director for Operations at the FDA, retorted that understanding the role of the parks and protected areas in general is essential to the nation.

He stated that Sapo as the ‘mother park’ should be seen as an example of managing a landscape for social and ecological benefits.

He further emphasized the critical role that local leaders and traditional authorities must play in educating their people to be proud of their heritage by sustainably managing their resources for current and future generations.

The Technical Manager for Conservation at the FDA, Mr. Blamah Goll, said that the national validation is the final step towards the operationalization of the SNP management plan as a tool that will help support the proper management of the park.

The management planned development was by provisions in the 2006 National Forest Reform Law and the 2016 National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Areas Management Law. It is a technical document that sets out the managerial approach and goals for the management of an area, together with a framework for decision-making over a given period.

An adaptive management framework was endorsed as the implementation strategy. This will reinforce and foster connections between international best practices and locally adapted applications through interactive learning.

Meanwhile, on the 31st of March 2021, a symposium on the promotion of Pygmy Hippopotamus (PH) conservation using a landscape approach was held at the Golden Gate Hotel.

The PH (Choeropsis liberiensis) is a smaller but distinctive relative of the common hippopotamus. It is found only in the rainforests of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, its home range is being severely reduced by human activities.

The symposium’s objective was to share information on a recently concluded project to promote the continuous survival in the wild of the endangered PH.

It also highlighted the importance of corridors to PH conservation and explored steps to establish ecological corridors in the face of competing land uses.

Landscape-level conservation provides a holistic approach to landscape management, aiming to reconcile the competing objectives of nature conservation and economic activities across a given landscape.

The project, which was from 2017 to 2021, was managed by FFI, with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the Pygmy Hippo Foundation (PHF). The development of the SNP management plan was funded by the Arcus Foundation.

Participants posed shortly after the conclusion of the National Intersectoral workshop

The deliberations at both the national validation workshop and the PH symposium were productive, with participants generating ideas that will form a part of the content of the technical document and associated implementation strategies.

The need for capacity development of governmental, non-governmental and community stakeholders, plus continuous awareness-raising, was emphasized to enhance effective management of species and conservation of biodiversity-rich landscapes by participants.

Both events included stakeholders’ participation from local communities and government agencies, including the FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Liberia Land Authority, and the Liberia National Police.

Representatives of local and international NGO’s came from Forest Cry Liberia, Farmers Associated to Conserve the Environment, Partners in Development, and Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Elephant Research and Conservation, Environmental Justice Foundation and Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Other participants included representatives from USAID, the Chinese Embassy, and Golden Veroleum Liberia Limited.

1 COMMENT

  1. It is commendable that national government and other stake holders have kept the foot on the pedal as it befits the conservation of Liberia’s forest, including the flora and fauna that exist in that geographical terrain. In one of my reactions to a story covering the National Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and carried by this medium not long ago, I gave a brief synopsis of the importance of the national forest and what it means to the future of the country, the Mano River Basin and, yea, to West Africa at large.

    Nowadays, as we hear a lot about climate change and the hazard it poses to the natural ecosystem and bio-diversity, it is incumbent upon all that we not only sing the song, but also act, by dancing the dance, that will save our beautiful and healthy environment. Who doesn’t love to wake up from sleep early in the morning and listen to to the beautiful melody of a bird singing? That bird is part and parcel of the natural fauna of our country. Let us preserve that ecosystem.

    It is on that note above, that I, herewith, sound the country horn in order to draw attention to another very important landmark of our national terrain, Liberia’s three hundred and fifty (350) miles long coastal beach. This beautiful national real estate has long been taken for granted. It hasn’t received the close attention it very well deserves. Why are our beaches very important? Firstly, the beaches are where the country’s land mass, comprising forty three thousand square miles (43,000 sq. mls.) begin. Secondly, it is the geographical landmark that tells the whole world that Liberia is not a land locked country. Thirdly, as a beach, it is one of the universal places of leisure and recreation for mankind. This is when the it is kept clean, protected, and preserved.

    The beach, in most areas of the Atlantic Coast, serves as our conduit to the silver-blue ocean. Our territorial sea coast, that spans an area of two hundred miles into the ocean from the beach, is one of the precious and valuable natural properties of our national patrimony. Due to limited space, I cannot enumerate all the valuables that Liberians have been blessed with, over the ages and up till now, from the Atlantic Ocean.

    Our beaches are threatened by erosion brought about by global warming. Our beaches are also subject to neglect and abuse from the people and our government. Let us also preserve our beautiful natural beaches and our territorial waters in the Atlantic Ocean as we preserve our natural forest and its ecosystem. A WISE MAN ONCE SAID, “YOU NEVER MISS THE WATER UNTIL YOUR WELL RUNS DRY”!

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