Improving tourism, creating employment
The East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR) was established by an Act of the National Legislature in 2003. it is located in Northeastern Central Liberia with a total area of 13, 500 hectares or 337,500 acres. A co-management agreement was also signed between Forestry Development Authority, (FDA), and three communities bordering the reserve such as Sehyi, Gba, and Zor in 2013. The Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), USAID, the Management of Libassa Ecolodge, and West Africa Trade and Investment HUB, on15th October 2022, held a groundbreaking ceremony to construct a modern eco-lodge facility on the reserve that would provide employment and recreational benefits to national and local government as well as citizens of Nimba County. The program took place in Yekepa, Nimba County, and was attended by a cross-section of stakeholders, the Managing Director, Hon. C. Mike Doryen, rangers from ENNR, local authorities from Nimba, conservation organizations, donors, students, etc.
Adolphus Tiah, Ecotourism Officer, on behalf of the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia, (SCNL), appreciated the government, partners, and the county for embracing the program. Mr. Tiah highlighted SCNL’s collaboration with the FDA to protect Liberia’s biodiversity by providing livelihood activities to locals living around protected and proposed protected areas including the Gola Forest National Park, ENNR, etc. He added that conservation does not only mean to keep or preserve but as it is evolving, it should also be seen as something to provide benefits to the national government and the local people who live by it.
Mr. Yealue W. Yealue, District Commissioner, Sanniquellie Mahn Administrative District proxied for Nimba County, Superintendent, Mr. Nelson Korquoi, thanked the FDA and its implementing partners for undertaking the initiative geared at constructing the Nimba Ecolodge And Reserve.
Joe Wamar Jr., who proxied for Mr. Joseph Warmar, Sr., Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nimba Ecolodge And Reserve, said ENNR is a reserve managed by the FDA, and three adjacent communities to the park. Mr. Warmar said the goal of the co-management plan for ENNR is to preserve nature through ecotourism and a sustainable local eco-tourism. The potential benefits tourists expected to get when visiting the park as insects, birds, the wonderful Nimba toad, mammals, and reptiles among others. Mr. Rudolph Antoune, Proprietor, of Libassa Ecolodge, and lead implementer of the ENNR Ecolodge, added when the project is completed, the income generated will be used to manage the park.
Hon. Doryen, who served as the keynote speaker, and did the groundbreaking, said in spite of the challenges, the ENNR has always maintained its physical and ecological uniqueness and still continues to regain its status. Hon. Doryen further said that when people relied on a particular resource without giving attention or support to others it becomes an in-balance decision.
“The construction of the ecolodge will bring more tourists and economic benefits to the reserve and the communities. I urged both national and international partners and donors to join in helping with the challenges rather than just singing songs of praise to themselves and criticizing the process”.
. He urged rangers to increase their patrol and as well as include hunters in livelihood opportunities so as to help reduce their reliance on bush meat by engaging in cattle raising such as cane rats etc. He further encouraged the citizens to take advantage of what they have by promoting local tourism.
Yar Mehn District Commissioner, Hon. Thomas S. Gonotee appreciated the GoL, partners, and everyone ensuring the Nimba Ecolodge And Reserve is built.