The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change program (WABiCC) has awarded two separate conservation grants to enhance conservation activities in Liberia.
The two grants, worth U$1.8 million and U$2.7 million respectively, will facilitate the implementation of a three-year project in the Gola trans-boundary forest landscape between Liberia and Sierra Leone and the Tai-Grebo-Krahn-Sapo Trans-boundary forest landscape between Liberia and Cote d'Ivoire.
The two projects will be carried out by the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL), the Royal Society to Protect Birds, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, and Fauna & Flora International.
The SCNL and the Royal Society to Protect Birds will work in the Gola trans-boundary forest landscape between Liberia and Sierra Leone while Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and FFI will both operate in the Tai-Grebo-Krahn-Sapo trans-boundary connecting Liberia and Cote d' Ivoire.
Launching the project in Liberia, Forestry Development Authority Managing Director Darlington Tuagben said the SCNL along with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds will support the livelihood of communities and the inclusive and sustainable management of the Gola trans-boundary forest landscape.
Tuagben said the projects will not only focus on livelihood activities but also on socioeconomic and biodiversity surveys, including community highlight programs and capacity building of local communities and the FDA field staff.
"The project will support conservation working groups and also provide training to local judiciary staff in counties where the project will be executed to tackle illegal wildlife trafficking and strengthen regional collaboration," he said.
He added that cross-border traffic is currently uncontrolled and many are illegally leaving Liberia without any benefit to the country. "I am confident that the two projects will help us to deal better with these problems for a more sustainable way forward, keeping our treasures alive for the future generation," the FDA boss emphasized.
"The FDA wants to thank USAID and the WABiCC program for this opportunity given to her conservation partners. We look forward to the implementation of the projects and we are committed to continue working in close collaboration with our partners for a more sustainable management of our forests and increase conservation successes for Liberia, its neighboring countries and the world as a whole."
He indicated that, "The two forest landscapes host a unique treasure of endemic and threatened species such as the critically endangered western chimpanzee, the endangered pygmy hippo, the vulnerable forest elephant and many more species are facing significant threats, such as illegal hunting, chewing stick extraction and encroachment for farming."
The Nature Resources Management Team Leader of USAID, Lisa Korte, said the grants are meant to conserve biodiversity, create livelihood and find a way to use the forest.
She said 3,000 people will be impacted around the Gola trans-boundary forest as a result of agriculture interventions, raising awareness and cost-benefit sharing. The Gola and the Tai-Grebo-Krahn-Sapo landscapes, she added, are historical, owing to their unique biodiversity in both Sierra Leone and Liberia, and 2,200 people will benefit from the farmer field school, including other organizations as well as government agencies.
"The grant for the Tai-Grebo-Krahn-Sapo forest will support the livelihood of surrounding communities and contribute to improving management of the landscape," Madam Korte added.
The Head of the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABiCC) Program, Dr. Nouhou Ndam, urged the beneficiary organizations to make use of the dry season by speedily going back to the various landscapes.
"The Mano River basin has been identified as the area that has the largest forest landscape, and for that reason the WABiCC project was directed to the basin after vetting of proposals," he said.
The launching program was attended by local chiefs and local government officials from Gbarpolu, River Gee, Grand Gedeh and Sinoe counties, where the two landscapes are located.