The Government of Liberia (GoL), through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), and the Government of Sierra Leone through the National Protected Areas Authority (NPAA) on May 11, 2022 held a technical sub-committee meeting in Marshall City, Margibi County. The aim of the one-day dialogue was centered around finding lasting solutions to challenges surrounding the Greater Gola Transboundary Landscape.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL), West Africa Biodiversity and Low Emission Development (WABiLED), EU delegation, Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), National Protected Areas Authority (NPAA), Gola Rainforest National Park, senior technicians from the Conservation Department of the FDA, amongst others.
During the technical dialogue, relevant issues including the overall objectives, and purpose of the Transboundary Sub-Committee building on the transboundary Peace Park Accord Agreement, law enforcement (planning and implementing) transboundary patrols were discussed.
These discussions were annexed by the two technical sessions which addressed legal issues, solutions and enabling frameworks, communication, public education, integration of security agencies, training for rangers within the context of transboundary patrols and the need for public education and awareness regarding the importance of Transboundary cooperation and joint patrols. While the second technical session addressed the need for a broader institutional cooperation, available data within each of the countries and the focal points to support Landscape Land Use Plan.
The stakeholders also deliberated the issue of [peace and security] within the transboundary areas, and the unavoidable need to ensure the availability of livelihoods for the people living within the proximity of the transboundary.
In his opening address earlier, FDA Deputy Managing Director for Operations, Hon. Joseph J. Tally hailed the participants on behalf of the GoL for the courage to discuss transboundary issues which he said remains the heart of ‘peace and security’ between the two Mano River Union countries. “We welcomed the participation of the Sierra Leonean side, the FDA is committed to the fullest in ensuring that the 3cs approach-conservation, community and commercial forestry programs are adhered to. The GoL is also making effort to manage the forest, and settling the basis for a prosperous social and economic environment for future generation,” Hon. Tally said.
At the close of the one-day technical dialogue, a resolution was agreed on by the committee on managing the Gola Transboundary: Whereas, we the Transboundary Technical Sub-committee meeting in the City of Marshall, Margibi County being cognizant of the challenges and needs for regional collaboration at the technical level to support transboundary collaboration; Whereas, recognizing the need for substantive technical collaboration for the implementation/realization of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Liberia under the auspices of the Mano River Union in 2011 and updated in 2019; Whereas, acknowledging the provision for the establishment of a framework for the joint management and conservation of the Gola Forest, including the setting up of an intergovernmental coordination committee to direct and coordinate management and coordination activities; be it resolved that the Transboundary Technical Sub-committee agrees to collaborate with the Gola-PAPFor project for the purpose of establishing joint transboundary patrols and development of a land use plan for the greater Gola Landscape consistent with the attached roadmap/action plan.
In a closing remark, SCNL Executive Director, Michael F. Garbo, thanked participants, and encouraged all forestry partners to keep moving forward, and keep engaging with respective governments in order to achieve the intended goals. “I want to thank each of you, especially our colleagues from Sierra Leone who drove long distance for a worthy cause. We also extend thanks and appreciation to the FDA, EU-PAPfor (for providing the funding), and the opportunity to hold this transboundary technical dialogue. We are looking forward for more support for the implementation of what have been discussed today”.