Last month, the Government of Liberia (GoL) and Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), launched the Co-Management Plan for the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP) in Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu Counties. The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in collaboration with SCNL, under the Gola-PAPFor Project, with funding from the European Union (EU), launched the Co-Management Plan Development process for the Gola Forest National Park (GFNP).
The development of the Co-management Plan will allow both the GoL, and the forest-edge communities to jointly manage the park with their respective shared roles and responsibilities. This process will ensure communities have voices in the management of natural endowment (Forest).
During the launching program, several local leaders from Lower and Upper Sokpo, including the paramount chiefs, district commissioners and ordinary citizens were in attendance.
The ceremony was followed by vigorous data collection from focus groups from park-fringed communities, and participatory mapping was carried out among the focus group on the number of [sacred sites] and list of None Timer Forest Products (NTFPs), and how they and national government can co-manage the park.
Historically, Park-fringed Communities have enjoyed customary rights over the forest prior to its creation as a national park. In the concluding statement of the Paramount Chief of Porkpa, Chief Jamiyatu K. Watson, told her people of Kawulahum, “The boundary of the Gola Forest National Park was legally established, and there is nothing any of us can do to change it. All we can push for is support through alternative livelihoods and in extension, employment of the youths”.
The Co-management Plan Development Consultant, Dr. Samuel N. Koffa told the participants that the ‘governance and management’ of Liberia’s protected areas are at crossroads, and encouraged them to make a decision to rescue the forest in Liberia as well as the Gola Forest National Park.
“Our protected areas are into bottomless pits and grasslands, and suffering from the consequences such as adverse climate change, scarcity of wild animals, unusual floods and droughts, the scarcity of firewood and charcoal, wood for construction, and a multitude of other uses. Everyone needs to prioritize institutions working to ensure nature is preserved. This is a repeat of what the Executive Director of SCNL, Michael F. Garbo said on February 4, 2022 during the Stakeholder Consultation Meeting in Monrovia, with the leadership of Camp Alpha. My work with you is to craft a co-management plan, SCNL has been requesting donors to fund this activity so many years ago… Let’s work together towards this goal,” he concluded.