The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, Mr. Darlington Tuagben has called for support for wildlife conservation across the country.
Conservation includes the preservation or efficient use of resources or the conservation of various quantities under physical laws. It may refer more specifically to biodiversity, environment, and natural resources, including their protection and management. It also includes the protection and restoration of cultural heritage, including works of art and architecture, as well as archaeological and historical artifacts.
Addressing journalists at his office in Bernard Farm community, outside Monrovia, recently Mr. Tuagben said wildlife conservation is an important way to ensure the survival of species in the world.
“I was out of the country recently but upon my return I was informed that two elephants invaded farms in Kolahun District, Lofa County and destroyed crops there,” he said.
It saddened all of us and because of the ugly experience the farmers had with the animals, we once again say a very big sorry to them and are grateful to God that there was no casualty,” he said.
He said “in as much as there are challenges, Liberians need to also respect the conservation laws. Snakes, elephants, baboons, and other wildlife are not all bad as we may think. They can live in harmony with people if we don’t harm them or attempt to tamper with their habitats.”
He cautioned that farmers need not go beyond certain limits in places where there are forests only because they want to do farming or hunt down animals.
“FDA is not and will not be happy with anyone who guns down five or more animals daily for either commercial or private reasons. If some of us don’t know, let us know today that it takes elephants every five years before they mate and produce their kind. So if people are given the freedom to kill elephants, that means we will have none in our forests after a few years only because they are killed or have fled into the forests of nearby countries,” Tuagben noted, adding that Liberia is a signatory to many charters, including agreements on conservation of wildlife.
He said the FDA is now working with the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to regulate some activities of farmers, mainly hunting, in order to ensure that the country realizes the goals of conservation.
The National REDD+ Project Coordinator Mr. Saah A. David said unlike the past, communities across the country now have direct benefits from the operation of their forests.
“Global climate change threatens people, their communities and their livelihoods around the world. As part of an international climate agreement that will complement the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international community has developed a climate change mitigation and economic incentive mechanism designed to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries ,” Mr. David said.
The launch of REDD+ aims to create a global win-win situation for all stakeholders, from local communities to governments. REDD+ designates a dollar value for territories with standing forests according to the amount that would be released if the forests were destroyed. This gives developed countries a way to meet emissions standards by paying to keep forests in the developing world standing. The money is then allocated to incentivize forest community-members, who would otherwise need to cut down the forests for income.
In 2012 The Government of Liberia received $3.6 million from the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) to develop Liberia’s national plan for engaging in REDD+. FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are the key government agencies involved in the program, which will offer Liberia a new opportunity to benefit financially from serving global conservation goals. It will provide mechanisms to manage forests in a balanced way for long-term sustainable economic growth, to support the livelihoods of local and rural communities, and to ensure that important national and global heritage is conserved.
He said Liberia owns forty percent of the upper guinea forests band that is a reserve from which locals around that forest will benefit forty percent of its overall productivity and market values.
He added that FDA through REDD+ will work with NGOs working in the rural communities and the local leaderships where there are forests and communities and develop proposals that will help in the sustainability of the livelihoods of the local dwellers.
“They will suggest to us and we look into their concerns for the sustenance of their normal livelihoods,” David pointed out.