Liberia: Fda, Fauna &flora International End Two National Workshops On Pygmy Hippopotamus Conservation and Validation of Collaborative Management Plan for Sapo National Park

Monrovia — The Forestry Development Authority of Liberia (FDA) and Fauna & Flora International (FFI) have ended two separate multi-stakeholder workshops, on validating Collaborative management plan for the Sapo National Park (SNP), Liberia's oldest protected area and Pygmy Hippopotamus conservation.

The park is located in southeastern Liberia, situated in Sinoe, River Gee, and Grand Gedeh Counties. SNP is the largest protected area in Liberia and was established in 1983. It covers an area of 1,804 km2 (180,400 ha).

The park contains extremely diverse ecological communities, distinctive fauna and flora, and a mosaic of forest types.

Speaking on Tuesday, March 30, during the validate management event, FDA Deputy Managing Director for Operations, Joseph J. Tally, retorted that understanding the role of the parks and protected areas, in general, is essential to the Liberia.

He stated that Sapo, as the 'mother park' should be seen as an example of managing a landscape for social and ecological benefits.

Mr. Tally further emphasized the critical role that local leaders and traditional authorities must play in educating their people to be proud of their heritage by sustainably managing their resources for current and future generations.

At the same time, the Technical Manager for Conservation at the FDA, Mr Blamah Goll, said the national validation, is the final step towards the operationalization of the Sapo National Park management plan and a tool that will help support the proper management of the park.

"The park is also a 'regional centre of endemism', i.e. an area rich in species found nowhere else. It provides refuge and serves as the last stronghold for species such as the western chimpanzee, African forest elephant and pygmy hippopotamus, some of the most threatened species in the world," he said.

"The management plan's development, was by provisions in the 2006 National Forest Reform Law and the 2016 National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Areas Management Law," Fauna & Flora International said in a released."

Accordingly, the management plan is a technical document that sets out the management approach and goals for the management of an area, together with a framework for decision making, over a given period.

During the workshop, an adaptive management framework was endorsed, as the implementation strategy.

The released said, this, will reinforce and foster connections between international best practices and locally adapted applications through iterative learning.

The development of the Sapo National Park management plan was funded by the Arcus Foundation.

In similar development, same way, a symposium on the promotion of Pygmy Hippopotamus (PH) conservation, using a landscape approach was also held On Wednesday, March 31, at the Golden Gate Hotel in Paynesviille.

The symposium was aimed at sharing information on a recently concluded project to promote the continuous survival of the endangered Pygmy Hippopotamus.

It also highlighted the importance of corridors to Pygmy Hippopotamus conservation and explored steps to establish ecological corridors in the face of competing land uses.

The Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis), is a smaller but distinctive relative of the common hippopotamus.

It is found only in the rainforests of Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, its home range is being severely reduced by human activities.

Landscape-level conservation provides a holistic approach to landscape management, aiming to reconcile the competing objectives of nature conservation and economic activities across a given landscape.

The project, which was from 2017 to 2021, was managed by Fauna & FIoura International with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) and the Pygmy Hippo Foundation (PHF).

The deliberations at both the national validation workshop and the PH symposium were productive, with participants generating ideas that will form a part of the content of the technical document and associated implementation strategies.

The need for capacity development of governmental, non-governmental and community stakeholders, plus continuous awareness-raising, was emphasized, to enhance effective management of species and conservation of biodiversity-rich landscapes by participants.

Both events included stakeholders' participation from local communities and government agencies, including the FDA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Liberia Land Authority, and the Liberia National Police.

Representatives of local and international NGO's came from Forest Cry Liberia, Farmers Associated to Conserve the Environment, Partners in Development, Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Elephant Research and Conservation, Environmental Justice Foundation and Libassa Wildlife Sanctuary.

Other participants included representatives from USAID, the Chinese Embassy, and Golden Veroleum Liberia Limited.

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