As FDA Boss Seeks Financial Autonomy
Forest stakeholders and partners at the official launch of the Grebo-Krahn and Gola national parks have pledged to protect the critical biodiversity of species in established parks in the country.
In remarks at the official launching ceremony held at the Monrovia City Hall on Thursday, April 26, several support partners, FDA officials, civil society actors, lawmakers and chiefs lauded the efforts of all Liberians that ensured the fruitful outcome of the forest initiatives.
The Grebo-Krahn and Gola national parks launching ceremony was held under the theme: “Promoting Sustainable Management of the Liberian Forests for the Benefits of all Liberians.”
In a carefully worded statement, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission Director Anthony Chan congratulated Liberia for the creation of two new national parks.
Director Anthony Chan noted that from their tropical hard woods to magnificent animals such as elephants, these parks are a source of national pride.
Too often, he added, the value of tropical forests is appreciated only after its trees are cut and the resources are gone.
“Liberia is today making a commitment to conservation, I applaud the FDA for establishing these protected areas hence, I admire your vision to conserve Liberia’s natural heritage for future generations who will be able to visit and appreciate these pristine protected areas because of your foresight,” Director Chan stressed.
Director Chan also pointed out that the benefits of national parks are not limited to the park borders and protecting forests contributes to ecosystem services that people depend on for their daily well-being.
He further noted that such benefits include maintenance of watersheds, rainfall, healthy soil and medicinal plants.
The UDSAID boss intimated that the benefits will extend beyond Liberia into the West African region.
“Thus, I also commend your efforts to work across borders with your neighbors in Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast and establishment of the Gola Forest as a national peace park with Sierra Leone and Grebo-Krahn National Park on the border with Ivory Coast demonstrates Liberia determination to collaborate with its neighbors,” Director Chan emphasized.
Director Chan however, stressed that Liberians should not forget the costs of biodiversity loss in Liberia have been devastating and such losses include elephants, pangolins, chimpanzees and other animals which are regularly targeted by wild life crime syndicates.
He added that Liberians should be assured that U.S. Government through USAID is committed to the success of these new parks and their transboundary landscapes.
Director Chan disclosed that the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change Program, which USAID funds is intended to support the sustainable management of tropical forests, curtail illegal wildlife trafficking and bring tangible benefits to forest dependent communities.
The USAID official explained that these investments support work in the national park and fortify cross-boundary activities in the greater landscape.
Director Chan stated that the U.S. Government stands with Liberia in its efforts to conserve tropical forests and establish these national parks for the benefit of this generation and future generations of Liberia.
In a special statement, FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen underscored the need for the forest agency to be granted financial autonomy to avoid encountering delays and bureaucratic processes at the hands of Ministry of Finance and Development Planning officials.
Besides, Director Doryen argued that that FDA is making significant contributions to the national budget and too little is being allotted for the operations of the forest agency over the years.
He however explained that most of the funds allotted in the national budget for the FDA are earmarked for salaries and wages of staff and employees and such gaps must be looked at critically by the Liberian Government.
“Our financial contributions to the national budget do not correspond to funds given us for the protection and conservation of the forests and protected areas in the country,” Doryen noted.
On challenges being encountered by forest rangers, Doryen noted that all the splendid efforts to conserve the Liberian forests and its biodiversity will not achieve tangible results if the requisite tools and communication equipment cannot be provided by the FDA management.
He stressed the need for the Liberian Government and support partners to consider as a matter of expediency, the increment of support to the FDA budgetary allotment in order to ensure the protection and preservation of the Liberian forest and its biodiversity in the years to come.
Director Doryen commended the EU, USAID, German Government, ECOWAS, World Bank AU, MRU, NGOs, EPA and community dwellers for demonstrating their commitment and support to all the forest initiatives in the country.
In a statement, German Ambassador to Liberia pointed out that steps and processes that are bearing fruits for the creation of national parks are manifestations for the protection of the ecosystem and vital biological biodiversity for next generations of Liberians.
The German envoy to Liberia urged the FDA and partners to ensure dwellers in forest communities are considered seriously for sustainable assistance in alternative livelihoods in the years to come.
He also lauded the current efforts of partners and the FDA management aimed at creating national parks primarily geared toward the sustainable management of the Liberian forest and its unique biodiversity.
In a brief remark, an official of the European Union in Liberia called on all sides of the forest sector to work and continue initiatives that would translate into practical actions for the sustainable management of Liberia’s forests.
Other officials and civil society representatives who addressed dignitaries at the launching program underscored the need for Liberians and support partners to maintain and sustain the gains made thus far in the sustainable management of the Liberian forest and its vital biodiversity.