The Solimar International, the world’s biggest tourism organization based in Washington, D.C., has officially released to the Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the Sustainable Tourism Development study which tends to set the basis for practical growth in the country’s tourism sector, an FDA release has said.
According to the release, the study basically features the proposed and protected areas under the Liberia Forest sector project landscapes, including Lake Piso Multiple Use Reserve, the Sapo National Park and the Gola National Park.
The FDA had secured support under the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP), which led to the successful conduct of a study that identified potential ecotourism sites within the targeted forest landscapes.
Essentially, the study assessed the level of income that could be generated from underdeveloped sectors (through ecotourism practices) within protected areas and adjacent communities in the foreseeable future.
Solimar International lead expert, James Philips, presented the document during an occasion graced by representatives of key actors in the sector on Friday, October 11, 2019, in the Shad Kadea Board Room of the FDA, including conservation partners and concerned agencies of government.
First lady Clar Weah was in attendance, through her Deputy Chief of office staff, James K. Kortu, Jr.
In a statement on behalf of Mrs. Weah, Kortu said his presence at the program represented the First Lady’s commitment and passion for the nation’s ecotourism development and by extension that of President George Weah.
He promised the First Lady’s unwavering involvement with activities in the forest sector, to make sure that the beautiful dreams of stakeholders, especially the FDA management, achieve their practical results.
Mr. Kortu called on Liberians to adopt the practice of appreciating what “nature has given us if others are to follow our examples.”
He pledged to deliver the report to the First Lady upon her return to the country, adding: “She will be passionate about the report.”
Kortu thanked the FDA management and its partners for their collaborative efforts, which he said are bearing fruit as far as the sustainable management of the forest is concerned.
FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen stressed the need to celebrate the report, given its rich ingredients which have the possibility to bring light and growth to the tourism sector.
Doryen expressed gratitude over the level at which the FDA and collaborating partners are leaving no stone unturned, to ensure that the wildlife and protected area management law of the country are being implemented to the fullest.
He made reference to the recent arrest and prosecution of a “notorious elephant killer” in Lofa County, who is facing a one-year jail sentence, along with a $US2,500 fine imposed among other previous cases, something Mr. Doryen said deserves commendation.
He thanked and encouraged partners to remain focused and evermore vigilant in combating wildlife and forest-related crimes so as to deter poachers at all times.
Mr. Doryen used the occasion to caution all Liberians to see themselves as “trailblazers”, judging from their history-making nature.
He said Liberia should not be described as a “failed state” as is being insinuated in many quarters by detractors.
Doryen also expressed the hope that Liberia is a nation that had in the past helped other nations take steps away from a point of doldrum to a place of independence.
“Our growth as a nation and people in line with our dreams and desires can only be realized when we learn to reexamine ourselves, discover our own value as a nation and people and move forward with an innovative mindset that will turn a new page,” he said.
He underscored the importance of value addition whereby Liberia can shift to processing of its round logs locally and create more jobs for young Liberians.
Doryen: “Let’s be proud of what nature has blessed us with; we are not a nation of failure, but a nation that is noted for history-making; a nation that will rise again and get out of the ashes of difficult times.”
He called for greater private sector investment in the tourism sector while underscoring a significant impact of the LIBBSA Ecolodge sanctuary, a tourist center located in Marshall, Margibi County.
Meanwhile, the movie industry in Liberia has pledged to promote ecotourism in concert with FDA and its partners.
Liberia Movie Union President Frank Artus described the move by FDA as brilliant and nationalistic and hoped that his team will closely work with FDA, to elevate the importance of ecotourism. The program was graced by the World Bank, USAID (United States Agency of International Development), UNDP (United Nation Development Program), Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) REDD+ and other key conservation partners, such as FFI, CI, WCF, SCNL, LCRP, and AMBERO/GIZ.