The EU delegation to Liberia in collaboration with the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) in its determined drive to successfully combat wildlife and forest crimes across the country, has donated one project vehicle to the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) to further boost the implementation of its conservation program.
The ceremony, according to a release, took place on Thursday November 21, 2019 at the entity’s Bernard Farm offices in Paynesville, in the presence of a number of key conservation partners.
The vehicle is expected to complement motorbikes, laptops and printers that were previously given to the FDA and partners during the first months of the project.
The other items are to strengthen local communities, and the law enforcement network in combating wildlife and forest crimes.
“More importantly, it will serve the daily operations of FDA’s Wildlife Confiscation Unit, and generally support the activities of the newly created Wildlife Crime Task Force (WCTF), the release said.
The WCTF is a joint law forest enforcement effort that is coordinated by the FDA. It includes other law enforcement entities, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Interpol, the Transnational Crime Unit, Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary and Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection.
Earlier, FDA Wildlife and Confiscation Managers Abenego Gbarway, and Ali S. Kais, made separate presentations on the successes made thus far in the fight against wildlife crimes since the launch of the Confiscation Unit last year.
They also made a lot of recommendations in the wake of challenges being faced in the execution of their roles.
The WCF Project Coordinator Odaphus B. Zardee, provided update of the project activities including workshops and training, surveys and field missions, meetings and events, bio-monitoring activities.
David PALACIOS Garcia de la Rosa, Program Manager Forestry, Environment and Natural Resources at the EU Delegation in Liberia, who presented the vehicle to the FDA management, said the handover is one way of affirming the EU’s commitment towards biodiversity conservation, law enforcement and poverty reduction in the country.”
Dr. Annika Hillers, Country Director of the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF), said “The new project vehicle for the Wildlife Confiscation Unit and the Wildlife Crime Task Force will boost their work and will help to protect Liberia’s unique and rare wildlife more effectively.
“The support of the EU for the FDA and partners has promoted Liberia to be one of the top actors in fighting wildlife and forest crime in West Africa and beyond,” the release said.
The creation of the WCTF is a part of EU’s initiative law enforcement and combating wildlife and forest crime project, which was launched in February 2019.
The conservation project has also supported the Community Ecoguard and Community Watch Team programs in the Southeast and northwest Liberia. As a result of the works of the WCTF, several wildlife crime cases have resulted in convictions.
Meanwhile, the Head of cooperation to the EU delegation, First Counselor, Theodorus Kaspers, has reiterated EU’s continued assistance to the forest sector aimed at making Liberia’s conservation drive a reality in all respects.
Kaspers used the occasion to thank the WCF for assiduously implementing its share of the EU founded project and hoped she will continue on the same path. He also thanked the management of the Forestry Development Authority for its unrelenting cooperation with conservation partners thereby accelerating growth and development in the forest sector.
“The EU remains engaged with Liberia to support the rule of law and combat illicit exploitation and trafficking of your natural resources, but we need your unambiguous engagement to be mutually successful.
Recall that we are heavily supporting both communities and commercial use of forest through the voluntary partnership agreement (VPA). The VPA with position better Liberian timber in export market only after its adequate legality assurance,” he said.
FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen, acknowledged EU’s continued assistance to the forest sector in these trying times as Liberia struggles to perfect those international protocols and conventions, which she has signed onto, especially in the area of the conservation of the forest and all its constituent elements.
As Liberia is yielding to the terms and agreement enshrined in these protocols and conventions, Doryen called on developed countries to correspondingly live up to their share of the bargain.
He extended unconditional gratitude to the EU family, and hoped they will continue to stand by Liberia in its drive to pursue the goal of conservation.
He noted that FDA will continue to work with partners working in the forest sector in the framework of the law saying, “We will remain unbending in the execution of the law that gives us the authority and right to protect the forest and wildlife.”
Mr. Doryen then cautioned to observe the rule of recruitment in line with the labor law of Liberia and as such they should liaise with the HR division of FDA for proper guidance.