The US Agency for International Development (USAID) supported community forestry program, PROSPER in partnership with Arcelor Mittal Liberia (AML),Conservation International (CI-Liberia) and Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) has ended a daylong event to raise awareness on the conservation of sea turtles and the protection of the mangroves along Liberia's sea coast. PROSPER stands for People, Rules and Organization Supporting the Protection of Ecosystem Resources.
The event which took place on 24 November in Barcoline Community District 3A, Grand Bassa County brought together over 350-community people. It marked the first major collaboration in outreach and public private partnership (PPP) with AML and PROSPER including CI-Liberia on natural resource management and conservation issues in Grand Bassa County.
Held under the theme "Save the Sea Turtle and Protect the Mangroves", the event was organized to strengthen public understanding about the importance and benefits of conserving Sea Turtles and protecting mangroves especially in the Barcoline Community. The event was characterized by series of activities including but not limited to sports, canoe race, presentations on the importance of sea turtle protection and mangrove management, cultural performances and live skits and dramas to educate the community about sea turtle species, mangrove ecology, and threats to their sustainability.
Barcoline is a coastal fishing community comprising thirteen towns and satellite villages stretching from the Port of Buchanan towards District (4) Four, Grand Bassa County. Its rich mangrove forests provide valuable habitat for a wide range of species; and provide sea coast protection for the beach which is a noted nesting site for up to 4different species of sea turtles.
Recent preliminary biodiversity assessments and community profiling exercises conducted by PROSPER in the community revealed a number of anthropogenic threats to sea turtle population. This includes killing of turtles as a result of net entanglement, mortality from collision with ships, and intentional killing by fishermen that perceive the turtles as a risk to their own livelihoods; turtle egg collecting for sale in markets; and threats to the nesting habitat caused from illegal sand mining, and light pollution associated with port and coastal area. Guests attending the program were representatives of USAID-Liberia, AML, CI, Forestry Development Authority (FDA), local leaders, youth groups, among others.
In a brief remark on behalf of the organizing agencies, USAID Liberia's Forestry Advisor, Jennifer Talbot thanked the people of Barcoline, acknowledged the support of the three institutions and urged them all to work together to improve their community through the sustainable management of their natural resources.