Robertsports, Montserrado County – A grand launch marking the Piso Lake Multi-Use Reserve Mangrove Biodiversity Sustainable Management Project took place in Robertsport City, Grand Cape Mount County, with stakeholders unanimously pledging to ensure the successful implementation of the project. The project entitled: “Managing the mangrove forests of Senegal in Benin is implemented by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) with the financial support of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (ICUN).

On December 5, 2020, the FDA and Wetlands International Africa (WIA) jointly hosted a Lake Piso awareness workshop where Liberian stakeholders were invited to submit proposals following the € 9,900,000 grant provided by the European Union to promote, protect and conserve wetlands in 9 West African countries, including Liberia. The grant application started from December 20, 2020 to January 20, 2021 and Liberia was one of the successful applicants.

The project includes the great Mano landscape of Sierra Leone and Liberia through Wetlands International Africa (WIA) and the 5Deltas Collective who are co-applicants of the fund. The project should ensure the sustainability of regional governance of protected areas in West Africa; More specifically, it will link governance and production systems to mangrove conservation at the territorial level and should allow integrated protection of the diversity and fragile mangrove ecosystems and their greater resilience to climate change. Basically, the project aims to support local initiatives for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources at the landscape level. It also focuses on supporting local initiatives for biodiversity conservation, monitoring, resource development, training as well as the creation of new protected areas in order to effectively contribute to the resilience of mangrove ecosystems and to the good. -socio-economic being of the communities in the sub-region.

Naturally, mangroves are trees that grow in wetlands and serve as home to aquatic fauna, including crocodiles which are among the critically endangered animals and must be protected under international protocols of which Liberia is. signatory. About fifty percent of fish are scientifically proven to lay their eggs in mangroves, which is also important for fish growth. They are vital to coastal communities and act as buffers against storm surges, forming a natural barrier between the ocean and coastal communities. But mangroves are disappearing at a faster rate than any other type of forest. Mangroves to reduce storm surges up to 50 centimeters (20 inches) per kilometer of mangrove width. They also serve primarily as a flood defense, which also makes their conservation and protection compelling and mandatory. The destruction of mangroves by any community is an indirect invitation to flood.

In his official launching statement attended by representatives of local government, traditional leaders, youth groups, women’s groups, among others, the FDA Deputy Director General for Operations, Joseph J. Tally highlighted the paramount importance of wetlands and expressed the urgent need for all Liberians to protect the forest for themselves and the waiting generations. He said that God has endowed Liberia with such a great treasure in the hope that it will be put to good use. “Let us obey and pay attention to the command of God concerning the conservation of nature. The forest was given to us by God with the order to dress it, to keep it and to protect the animals is “for your good and that of the future generation”. He warned that whenever these animals and forests go extinct due to their illegal destruction, human beings are also at risk of extinction. He then advised Liberians to manage these treasures in a sustainable way, adding: “Stop killing animals, stop making farms inside the forest, stop abusing the law, stop doing these things that will undermine future generations, etc … ”

In separate statements, Grand Cape Mount and Bomi County Superintendents Aaron B. Vincent and Adama Robinson pledged to cooperate with stakeholders in the implementation of the project. They took the opportunity to call for more livelihood support to quash possible temptations that could lead community residents to destroy the forest and mangroves and thanked the FDA and the project initiator for their dream and their vision to protect the mangroves and the forest which they said also forms the dream of the government.

For his part, the project coordinator, Mr. Osuman G. Kiazolu, gave an overview of the project which currently covers around 97,159 ha as well as the way forward with regard to its implementation, including the assessment of existing organizations, creation of a mangrove conservation management committee, training committee members in fundraising, leadership, governance and mangrove conservation techniques. Others include registering the committee with the appropriate authority, organizing joint patrols with relevant stakeholders to monitor and document illegal activities on a quarterly basis, training on the collection and analysis of patrol data ( spatial and non-spatial), establishing a clear boundary of the area through the use of GIS.

In addition, he stressed the importance of protecting and conserving mangrove biodiversity at the project site (Piso Lake Multi-Use Reserve) while calling on stakeholders from Grand Cape Mount and Bomi counties to consider the project as theirs given its national and international relevance. in the wake of climate change.

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