MONROVIA-The Managing director of the Forestry Development Authority has said that Liberian forests are not under threat, but are well protected, especially the North Nimba Reserved forest.
Mr. C. Mark Doryen told this paper last week that Liberian forests are not under any form of threat, especially the East Nimba Park.
More to that, the FDA said they are investing in human resource capacity that will have a long lasting impact on the forests.
“Who told you that the forest is under threat? We are doing a lot for that forest. In fact it is protected than before,” he said.
Recently, it was reported that the forest was under threat due to the lack of sufficient logistics for rangers to patrol and protect. As a result of that, there are intruders.
But he said, the FDA is working with its international partners and is doing much more for the protection of the forests.
“In fact that park is the most protected area. It is about 11,000 hectors. We have twelve rangers on patrol and each has a motorbike that we fuel monthly. In addition to that, we provide a four door Landcruiser jeep to the Chef park warden,” he added. “We provide fuel to it on a monthly basis.”
According to him, as a way to ensure that they increase surveillance, recently, they were given five drones by conservation international to track down any intruders.
“We were given five drones which are put up to track down intruders. Also, to track down people who will be selling bush meat- once they are seen, they will be detected in the specific area and later moved to be arrested.”
Now, you hardly see people selling meat on the streets and around supermarkets, he added.
“We have forest politics and they have ignorance. Some people assume and lie. They speak as if all is true. But those who tell you are not saying the fact.”
He continued: “the forest area has very limited human activities in the area. In fact residents in the areas are now serving as security.”
He said, “When you talk about threat, remove Nimba national forest. Over 30 years, no one has gone there to that place to cut a single tree. It is even the most protected park.”
In addition to the local protection, he said, it has external protection as well. It is a reserved forest that is located near the borders with Guinea and Ivory Coast.
“There is what we refer to as trans-border conservation corridors.
With rangers from Ivory Coast with Ivory Coast, Guinea, what is happening is a situation where those people are protecting their areas. They cannot allow anyone to cross to hunt here and we from this side do the same.”
According to him, they were able to have an agreement with Arcelor Mittal to support the community forests.
“These are support that comes from the FDA and the Liberian forest sector directly to the park. We have an MOU with AML. Under that MOU, AML supports the activities of the park and the community with USD$10,000 monthly,” he said.
This amount is not given to the community in cash, rather, logistics and other items needed for the support of the forest.
“That money is managed by a joint committee headed by one Mr. Saye Thompson. AML is on the committee, FDA along with others from the communities. We have made a policy here that we should decentralize our activities. They manage it and not a dime comes to FDA. The money is spent there in the community,” he said.
Cash only comes in, he said, to the community when people there have to do physical work like brushing. With that, they are paid.
He said recently, two elephants crossed over from Guinea into Liberia and they have to ensure their safety by placing rangers to protect them.
“They were here for one month. We guarded them until they returned.
There are about 14 protected areas in Liberia