The Triple Fortunes of the Gola Forest Act

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We had actually thought that the Gola Forest, which stretches through Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount counties, had long ago, by Act of Legislature, been established as a national reserve.

Not until our Senate Correspondent, J. Burgess Carter, reported last Monday that the Senate had set up two Committees to reconcile the Gola Forest and Affirmative Action Acts, respectively, with the House of Representatives, which had already passed both Acts.

The Senate Committee on Affirmative Action, headed by Grand Kru Senator Dr. Peter Coleman, will work to reconcile the differences with the House. The Senate had already, on last August 25, passed the Act creating 21 additional legislative constituencies
in the House to provide representation for women, youth and the disabled. But the House, seriously considering financial implications at this time of austerity, reduced the number to seven, hence the need for a Senate committee to reconcile the vote with the House.

This Editorial, however, addresses itself mainly to the more critical and long term implications of the Gola Forest Act. This Act carries with it a triple fortune. These are the further protection of Liberia’s forests; enhancing bio-diversity; and fighting climate change.

All three are crucially important to the future of Liberia.

The protection of our forests is critical because of the simple fact that Liberia holds the last remaining rainforests in West and Central Africa. This protection would empower Liberia to protect the whole of West and Central Africa against the devastating effects of climate change. What do we mean? We mean that if Liberia fails to stand fast in its fight to protect and conserve our forests, we—and our neighbors in West and Central Africa—run the risk of a rising Atlantic Ocean, which spans the entire northwest and southwest seaboard of Liberia. Just look at the map and all will see what we are talking about. A rising Atlantic Ocean would definitely expose us to a tsunami, such as the world witnessed in Asia several years ago. It destroyed thousands of lives and tens of billions of dollars in property and destabilized an entire region.

Do we want such a thing to happen in Liberia? We think not; we know that the answer is No! Herein lay the critical importance of protecting our forests. We must do so at all cost!

We, therefore, believe that Harrison Karnwea, Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), knows that he has on his hands one of the most critical (serious, life-threatening) jobs in the Republic—a job that he MUST at all times take very seriously. This means that he cannot sleep, but must remain ever vigilant; and not vigilant only, but conscientious, honest, hardworking and patriotic—loving his country and caring for and protecting her forests.

Karnwea has a good deal of experience in management, but though born deep inside Nimba’s forests, he is not a forester. The FDA is, however, equipped with many well trained foresters the MD should listen to, encourage and support.

We further urge the FDA Managing Director to encourage media coverage of the forests by inviting journalists to join FDA foresters on tours, in order to enable the media to see for themselves the problems and challenges and to help the Liberian people better understand and appreciate this God-given attribute—our forests—our pristine protection from ecological disasters.

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