In an effort to reduce greenhouse emissions through sustainable forest management, Liberia has taken the first step ever in more than 30 years to enact into law the Gola Forest National Park located in northwestern Liberia between Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties.
The landscape of the newly enacted Gola Forest is estimated at 88,000 hectares of forestland.
The Act establishing the Gola National Forest was passed on the eve of this year’s legislative annual break after the Senate concurred with the House of Representatives that earlier passed the Bill in September 2015. It is expected to be forwarded to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her approval and subsequent printing into handbills.
“The Act is mainly intended to work side by side with the numerous protocols and international instruments aimed at curbing the devastating consequences of climate change, which is threatening the existence of humankind,” the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries noted in a statement.
It said: “…the Gola Forest National Park being among the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the Act will guarantee long-term benefits for the people of Liberia.”
According to the Act, all nations and international conservation organizations as well as the United Nations are concerned about the negative impact of climate change and its devastating effects on mankind.
The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in its report to Senate plenary said the Gola Forest is of national significance, considering the presence of several natural species.
The Act also maintains that despite its relatively small size, Liberia contains a significant amount of biodiversity of over 2,900 different vascular plants, including 225 tree species, 600 species of birds, 500 mammal species and 75 reptiles. Liberia has over 1,000 insect species and accounts for the largest remaining forests that constitute 42% of the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa.
The Executive Director of the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCN), Mr. Michael Garbo, in a statement welcomed the passage of the Act, and emphasized that the Legislature’s decision signifies Liberia’s determination to ensure sustainable forest governance in the country as estimated in the 2006 Forest Reform Law. He described the Act as a landmark document for Liberia.
Mr. Garbo lauded the Rainforest Trust, Birdlife International, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, and European Union (EU) and other well-meaning bilateral and multilateral donors and partners that have worked alongside the SCN to support the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in making the passage of the GFNP into law a reality.
The SCN Director emphasized that even with various funding support from donors ending over the last 12 years, there would have been critical hitches had there not been the considerable and timely funding of the current donor, the Rainforest Trust.
More importantly, Garbo expressed gratitude to the local forest edge and corridor communities who he said worked over the years through a series of dialogues and consultations, demonstrating their interest and support to the critical decision to establish the GFNP which they see as a beacon of hope in their lives. He made particular reference to the people of Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties. He, however, called on all parties both government and nongovernment organizations to rally support for the implementation of the GFNP Act.