The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in collaboration with the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL) and a cross-section of residents from Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties have validated a five-year draft comprehensive park management plan of the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP) to govern activities at the park.
The initiative is being supported by the Rainforest Trust and the United states Agency for International Development (USAID) through the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABiCC) and the World Bank.
In 2016, the Liberian government legislated the GFNP, which covers 88,000 hectares in the two counties as a national park to promote conservation activities.
SCNL Executive Director Michael F. Garbo, informed participants at the validation workshop that it was important for the residents to contribute to the development of the strategic plan because they are the direct beneficiaries.
Garbo noted that it will be unfair for such significant document to be finalized without the inputs of the people.
“You cannot validate document for people if they, as direct beneficiaries, are absent; we want everyone to make their inputs,” he said, noting, “Everything that rural people do for living starts from the forest.”
He assured them that following their inputs on the draft management plan, SCNL will share the final copy with the donors for possible funding to begin the implementation of proper management of the GFNP to benefit the communities and the country as a whole.
Rainforest Trust Africa Coordinator, James P. Lewis, expressed gratitude for the validation of the GFNP management plan, as well as his entity’s commitment in supporting the full implementation of the document.
Lewis recalled how in 2016, when the World was watching Liberia passed into law the GFNP Act.
FDA Technical Manager, Blama Goll, who represented the managing director, Mike Doyen, assured the residents of the beneficiary counties that whatever inputs they make, will be considered.
“This document is clear, and your idea will make it more viable,” Goll informed the participants.
Porkpa District Paramount Chief Jamiatu A. Watson, who spoke on behalf of all the chiefs, informed the residents that the government made no mistake to establish the Gola National Forest Park.
Madam Watson said besides conservation, the establishment of the park has many benefits that will transform the living conditions of the residents from the two counties that are hosting the park.
Dr. Samuel Kofa, lead consultant for the drafting of the GFNP management plan, thanked the participants for their inputs to the exercise.