Authorities in Grand Gedeh County Back FDA for the Establishment of the KBPPA As a National Park, outline several benefits.

Stakeholders of Grand Gedeh County

The decision was reached at a daylong regional consultation meeting organized by the Liberia Forestry Development Authority with support from the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation.

The intend according to Mr. Evans Kiatamba, FDA Regional Forester for Region 4 is to present the content of the draft gazettement package to the stakeholders and solicit views for the establishment of the Krahn-Bassa Proposed Protected Area.

The Government of Liberia has committed itself through President George M. Weah to protect thirty percent of the remaining forest cover of Liberia as mentioned in the Forestry Reform Law and  has since embarked on the process of enhancing its protected areas network with KBPPA being no exception.

At the final regional consultation meeting held in Zwedru on the 15th of June 2023, the Forestry Development Authority and its lead partner the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation presented outcomes of the gazettement activities which are contained in the draft gazettement package.

Giving the overview of the KBPPA, Mr. Evans Kiatamba, FDA Regional Forester for Region 4 said the landscape (KBPPA) has been identified as a top priority for conservation, based on its unique level of biodiversity and species richness.

The participants’ mostly local clans, chiefdom, districts, and county leaders were also presented with the legal framework and the steps to establish protected areas in Liberia including the relevance of the KBPPA.

Mr. Evans Kiatamba, FDA Regional Forester for Region Four(4)

Kiatamba recounted President George M. Weah’s recent commitments made at the COP26 & COP27 Climate Conference wherein the Liberian Leader said, the country would become a leading nation in REDD+/Carbon credit financing while forest conservation will remain a top priority for the GOL and the Liberian nation as a whole. 

He added the gazettement of the Krahn-Bassa Proposed Protected Area is a national and international priority. The landscape, he said is one of the key target areas under the MoU with the Blue Carbon Group/United Arabic Emirates to give financial support to Liberia in return for forest protection.

Mr. Clement G. Tweh, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation(WCF) Program Manager

During the meeting, Mr. Clement G. Tweh, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation Program Manager also provided details outcome of the feasibility study conducted in 2016 within the Krahn-Bassa Proposed Protected Area. He told the stakeholders that the outcomes of the feasibility study showed that Krahn-Bassa Proposed Protected Area is endowed with biodiversity some of which are new to science. Tweh named the flying lizard, West African Dwarf Crocodile, the new puddle frog, and the threatened Gola Malimbe including the didelotia-gracillima as some of the new species discovered during the course of the feasibility study. 

Mr. Tweh also pinpointed the results from the demography survey and socioeconomic survey. He noted that fifty-three point six percent majority living around the landscape are farmers, farming for staple food while hunting remains a secondary economic activity 

According to him, 90% have access to farmland while 74.3% own the land 

Interestingly, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation Program Manager says 78.9% are in favor of forest conservation despite they have been made aware of the restrictions that come with forest conservation.

Meanwhile, 26% during the socioeconomic survey suggested that hunters should be employed to protect the forest in the future while substantive alternative livelihoods are provided for edged communities.

Krahn-Bassa Proposed Protected Area lies within three counties, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, and Rivercess in the Southeast of the Country. 

Mr. Marcus K. George, Chief Park Warden – KBPPA

Since 2016 up to date, the Liberia Forestry Development Authority and its lead partner the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation have been working on the gazettement activities to ensure the landscape is enacted into law as a national park, Marcus K. George, Chief Park Warden – KBPPA told the audience at the one-day consultation meeting.

George named the feasibility study, demography and socioeconomic surveys, and community consultations using the free prior informed consent methodology, the participatory land use mapping, boundary approval, and community consent, participatory flagging and boundary harmonization, and the co-management framework and benefit sharing among others as activities have already been conducted as part of the gazettement activities. 

Presenting the key component of benefits for people living around the KBPPA, Mrs. Princess Y. Tweh informed authorities that steps have already been taken to address the need of the people living around the landscape. The Wild Chimpanzee Foundation Senior Field Supervisor mentioned Community Ecoguard Program which has provided job opportunities for more than thirty-two youths while also announcing the pending recruitment exercise for additional team members.

She also named Beekeeping & Honey Production, Infrastructure development & mobile network, Tourist guide & Bird Watching training, Livelihood assessment, and the Co-management, benefit-sharing, and feedback redress grievance mechanism as activities that have already been undertaken geared toward ensure residents around the KBPPA substantial benefits.

Hon. Paul T. Neeo Sr.-County Inspector, Grand Gedeh County

Representing Superintendent Kai G. Farley, the County Inspector Hon. Paul T. Neeo Sr. thanked the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and Forestry Development Authority for always enlightening the minds of the people.

Hon. Neeo admonished all participants of the one day gathering not to just sit-by with the information but rather serve as ambassadors of change. He noted that in so many occasions people come for meetings or workshops just for the money that is given at the end but not with the mindset of acquiring and disseminating information obtained.   

After the PowerPoint presentations, the stakeholders unanimously agreed and endorsed the draft content of the gazettement package expressing their unflinching support for the sustainable management of the landscape if passed into law as a national park. The stakeholders, however, recommended for the percentage of the forest per county be included in the final gazettement package. The program took place at the Youth building in Zwedru City and brought together over fifty (50) stakeholders from diverse institutions.

The final size of the KBPPA is 214,226 hectares of forested land. It would become the biggest national park if enacted into law.

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