-Determined to steer biodiversity conservation efforts
Barely a week following the official launch of the Grebo-Krahn National Park in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County, the Management of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) over the weekend officially inaugurated the Gola National Park in Kongba District, Gbarpolu County, an FDA release said.
According to the release, the ceremony was attended by an array of collaborating partners and local government officials, thus bringing to three the number of national parks Liberia proudly owns and which is consistent with a global quest for biodiversity conservation.
The first includes the Sapo National Park, established by law in 1983 during the regime of the People’s Redemption Council (PRC), and now the Grebo-Krahn and Gola National Parks, both of which were approved by an Act of the legislature.
Officiating the launch on behalf of FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen, Deputy Managing Director for Administration Benjamin Tennesse Plewon lauded the efforts and cooperation of the citizens of Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties, which resulted to the successful establishment of the park.
Plewon described the inauguration of the third park as a milestone, as far as the Liberian forest sector project is concerned, specifically the conservation component.
Mr. Plewon expressed FDA’s gratitude to all those who have over the years helped in making the dream a reality and paid heartfelt tributes to all collaborating partners, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation FFI, GIZ/Ambero and especially the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL).
He also said President George Weah was happy over the pace at which Liberia’s commitment to protect the forest and biodiversity was being implemented by the FDA Management and partners, and extended the president’s warmest greetings to citizens and all alike for their effort demonstrated in the process.
He also encouraged citizens to be law-abiding and said the establishment of the park in the region will create job opportunities for them, most especially the youth and the incoming generation.
“By reserving protected species, it will be good for the future generation to see some existing animals of our generation; when those animals are killed, the generation to come will not be opportune to see those wildlife that existed in our generation”, he said.
FDA Deputy Managing Director for Operations Joseph J. Tally saluted those he called “patriotic men and women,” who stood firm to ensure that the park was established.
Tally emphasized the historic nature of the event, given the presence of delegates from the EU, America, Asia, Africa and parts of the world to witness the launching occasion.
Harrison S. Karnwea, FDA Board Chairman-designate, thanked the newly-appointed management team for moving fast in getting things done, which is consistent with the estimated dream and vision of the entity.
According to Mr. Karnwea, the arrangement that has finally resulted into the establishment of the Gola National Park was initiated by the governments of Liberia and Sierra Leone during the regimes of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and President Ernest Bai Koroma, noting that because of this arrangement the forest has been reserved and no damage caused to it.
Karnwea said the reserving of the rich forest in Liberia is not to only benefit the Western world, which is sending donor funding to get the forest conserved, but will also benefit Liberia, most especially citizens in the park areas and the future generation to come.
He extended thanks and appreciation to the four senators of Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties for encouraging citizens to accept the establishment of the park.
He admonished partners to take the Gola National Park very seriously because, according to him, Government has set aside the rich forest so that the livelihood of the people in the county can be improved, including benefits such as health facilities, schools and maintenance of infrastructure built on the premises of the park, and youth in the district who are either in high school or college and who will not think of going into the park to cause damage when their lives have been improved.
Mr. Karnwea also prayed for FDA to gain her autonomous status, to enable the Management independently and effectively drive its vision and agenda.
He suggested the training of more forest rangers to police the forest as the only possible way to protect those parks from poachers and illegal miners.
The Paramount Chiefs of Kongba and Porkpa Chiefdom John Try and Jamartu Watyan, promised to ensure that children abide by rules and regulations governing the park.
The two chiefs were gowned by the SCNL, which is the lead partner in the area, for their tireless effort in the process.