Local Authorities Consent to Kpo Mountain PPA Establishment
Protected areas or conservation areas are locations that receive protection from governments, and citizens because of their recognized natural, ecological, or cultural values. Protected areas provide life’s essentials because they are important to humans’ existence. The Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia, (SCNL) was contracted by the Forestry Development Authority, (FDA), with funding from the Government of Norway to prepare the gazettement packages for Kpo Mountain and Foya Proposed Protected Areas in Gbarpolu and Lofa Counties respectively. From June 6-7, 2023, SCNL, and FDA held district and county consultation meetings with local authorities in Bopolu City, Gbarpolu County to get them to consent to the Kpo Mountain Proposed Protection Area (PPA).
The meetings were separated, beginning on day one with the district while day two focused on the county officials. SCNL presented the progress of Kpo Mountain PPA to the county officials, which were followed by intense questions and answers. Before the presentations, Gbarpolu County District commissioner, Mr. Alvin Kanneh, welcomed the guests and thanked SCNL for organizing the meeting. “This is Bopolu City, this is the district of hospitality, you’re welcome,” he said.
Giving the purpose of the meeting was Mr. Michael F. Garbo, Executive Director, SCNL. He explained that PPA when finalized, will be co-managed by the community people, the leadership, and the Government of Liberia (GoL). “As we have come today, it is important for us to note that we all have come to the county and district levels so that we all can agree for the Kpo Mountain PPA to move forward. The government’s attempt to establish Kpo Mountain as a protected area is for the benefit of the citizens. As such, we need to have a consultation…The people should be aware of what is happening for them, and what is happening with them. Over the past years, you have witnessed SCNL, FDA, and EPA, in your communities and carryout flagging. We called you here to explain to you so that you can understand so that by the end of the day, you can sign the letter of consent so when people come to ask you can bear witness that we came and held these meetings with you. Without your help, time, and respect, we weren’t going to be here, thank you,” he said.
Mr. Joseph Tally, Deputy Managing Director for Operations, FDA, making remarks, appreciated the local officials for gracing the meetings. He said President George Weah and the FDA were glad to see efforts being made to conserve biodiversity. “Protected area management involves all, this is the message FDA takes across to forest edge communities. Kpo Mountain PPA is for the benefit of the people of Gbarpolu County, and the country. We can’t take the land and mountain, but we can manage the forests for the benefit of us. We are glad to see each of you here to consent to the establishment of the Kpo Mountain PPA for generations to come”.
J. Keyah Saah, Gbarpolu County Superintendent also making remarks, said the flagging done by SCNL, FDA, and EPA in the various communities is for the benefit of the communities. “The GoL says,’ When you eat some, keep some’. In other countries, the people have reserves. We can’t deplete the forests, SCNL, FDA, and partners are educating you on why is good to keep some of the forests for the future generation. The government and the county authorities appreciate everyone for coming… let’s reason together, through the preservation of the forest for the future of our children,” he advised. Meanwhile, the meeting ended successfully with all local authorities consenting to the establishment of Kpo Mountain PPA.
Some key benefits of protected forests in Liberia: Biodiversity Conservation: Protected forests in Liberia provide habitat for a diverse range of plants and animals, including many rare and endangered species. Conserving these forests helps to maintain this biodiversity, which is important for the health of the ecosystem.
Climate Change Mitigation: Forests play an important role in mitigating climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. By protecting forests, Liberia can help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate climate change.
Water Regulation: Forests play a key role in regulating the water cycle by absorbing, storing, and releasing water. This helps to reduce the likelihood of floods and droughts and ensures a reliable water supply for people and wildlife. Timber and Non-Timber Forest Products: Protected forests in Liberia provide a valuable source of timber and non-timber forest products, such as rubber, medicinal plants, and bushmeat. These products provide a livelihood for many communities and contribute to the local economy.
Cultural and Spiritual Values: Protected forests are often associated with cultural and spiritual values for local communities. Conserving these forests helps to preserve these values and maintain cultural heritage.
Tourism and Recreation: Protected forests can also provide opportunities for tourism and recreation, which can generate economic benefits for local communities.