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Liberia passes Gola Forest National Park Act into law

Joseph O. Sayon/JPN- Liberia
A bird eye view of the Gola Forest National Park
A bird eye view of the Gola Forest National Park

MONROVIA-LIBERIA - In an effort to reduce greenhouse emission through sustainable forest management, Liberia has taken another step enacting into Law the Gola Forest National Park in North-Western Liberia.

The Act, establishing the Gola Forest National Park, was passed September 23, 2016 after the Liberian Senate concurred with the House of Representatives that earlier passed the then bill in September 2015.

The entire landscape of the newly enacted Gola Forest is estimated as 88,000 hectares of forest land  situated between Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu Counties..

The Act is expected to be forwarded to President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for approval and will subsequently be printed into hand bill for circulation.

The Act is mainly intended to work side-by-side along with national and international protocols and instruments to curb the devastating consequences of climate change which threatens the existence of humankind.”

The Senate Committee on Forestry said in a statement: “Biodiversity has placed the Gola Forest National Park amongst the world’s biodiversity hotspots and as such, the act will guarantee long-term benefits for the people of Liberia.”

According to the Act, all nations and international conservation organizations, as well as the United Nations, are concerned with the negative impacts of climate change and its devastating effect on mankind.

The Act maintains that, despite the relatively small size territory, Liberia contains a significant amount of biodiversity of over 2,900 different vascular plants, including 225 tree species; 600 bird species, 500 mammal species and 75 reptiles.

Particularly in the Gola forest, research has so far discovered 3 plant species, 13 dragonflies and butterfly species, 1 frog and possibly 1 mammal species, all new to science.

The country also has over 1,000 insect species and accounts for the largest remaining forests that constitute 42% of the upper Guinea Forest of West Africa.

The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in its report to the Senate Plenary, said: "The Gola Forest is of national significance, considering the presence of several natural species."

In the same quest, the Executive Director, Michael Garbo, of the Society for the Conservation of Nature (SCNL), welcomed the passage of the Gola Forest Act.

Mr. Garbo emphasized that the Legislature's decision signifies Liberia’s determination to ensure sustainable forest governance in the country as enshrined in the 2006 Forestry Reform Law, adding that the Act is a landmark document for Liberia.

He lauded the Rainforest Trust, Birdlife International, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, and European Union (EU) as well as other well-meaning bilateral and multilateral donors/partners that have worked alongside the SCNL to support the Forestry Development Authority (FDA)'s effort in making the passage of the GFNP into law a reality.

"Even with funding supports from the various donors that ended over the last 1-2 years, there would have been critical hitches had there not been the considerable and timely funding of the current donor, the Rainforest Trust," Mr. Garbo emphasized.

More importantly, he expressed sincere gratitude to the local forest edge and corridor communities that worked over the years through series of dialogues and consultations, where they demonstrated their interests and support to this critical decision which they see as a beacon of hope for them.

Particularly commending the people of Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu Counties, Executive Director Garbo, however, called on all governmental and nongovernmental organizations/agencies to rally support in the operationalization of the Act.

 


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