MONROVIA, – Conservation International Liberia (CI-L) has completed the signing of three Conservation Agreements which are intended to serve as community incentives to protect and sustainably manage natural capital in coastal ecosystems in the Barcoline community located in Grand Bassa County.
According to a release from a Conservation International Liberia, the agreements, signed on Friday, witnesses representatives of CI-L as well as local leaders from the three Barcoline towns of Bleewein, Sarwein and Nyangba affixing their signatures to consummate the deal which will among other things protect the vast Mangrove vegetation in the areas as well as sea turtles and their nesting.
Through the Natural Capital Accounting Project (NCA), the conservation agreement is a model ecosystem-management approach that includes resource users in the management of natural resources.
The release said the agreement seeks to protect and sustainably manage mangrove and coastal forest ecosystems surrounding Barcoline community, by reducing forest cover loss and threat to marine species (sea turtles).
It will also provide sustainable improved livelihood options for the communities in return for verified conservation action.
As per the agreement, CI-L is expected to deliver a package of social benefits as an incentive to boost the commitment of the communities. By this, CI-L will provide tangible items including sustainable fishing gears, farming tools and village saving loans among other essential benefits to the communities.
Former hunters will also receive training to become frontline conservationists, they will have the opportunity to receive a monthly salary.
The current agreements with the three local communities dates back to April 2021, having recognized the importance of the mangrove and coastal ecosystems of Barcoline, CI-L with funding from Global Environment Facility (GEF), through the Natural Capital Accounting Project, CI-L conducted a feasibility assessment with three communities to assess the viability of renewing conservation agreements with communities located within the area.
During the design and negotiation of the Conservation Agreement, according to CI-L, the organization’s principle of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) were applied, and as such the need to fully implement the agreement to the fullest amidst efforts to protect biodiversity was strongly emphasized by Mr. Peter G. Mulbah, Country Director, CI-Liberia.
“Conservation agreements cannot solve all of your problems in the community, what it does is that it further motivates you and gives you additional tools that can help you manage, monitor and improve your livelihood,” Mulbah said in remarks.
Mulbah noted that the activities as enshrined in the agreement varies from community-to-community, emphasizing that the various initiatives are what members of the communities decided upon so as to support conservation.
“It means that you have expressed the willingness to support conservation within your communities and we are now looking up to you to turn that commitment and willingness into action and that action will be demonstrated through the implementation of these activities,” Mulbah emphasized.
He called for the inclusion of all particularly women in the process, believing that the addition of more women will help enhance the implementation of the agreement, protect the village saving loan as well as the generation of ideas that will make the process more effective.
Earlier, NCA Project Manager/CI-Liberia, Emmanuel T. Olatunji who provided an overview of the Conservation Agreement encouraged community members to own the process and emphasized that CI-L remains committed to reaching its part of the barging.
He said the NCA project which runs for five years will witness the signing of additional Conservation Agreements with the various communities every year, emphasizing, however, the need for community ledgers to ensure that they comply fully with their portion of the agreement.
Having signed previous Conservation Agreements with towns in the Barcoline community, the locals themselves have spoken kindly and about how effective the interventions of CI-L have helped to elevate the benefits and importance of conservation within their communities.
Prior to the arrival of CI-L, said Abel Nyankoon, Town Chief of Sarwein Community, members of our community did not know the importance of conservation, adding that the residents were in the habit of killing sea turtles and even destroying their natural habitats.
Nyankoon said the mangroves were being depleted on a regular basis by locals, however, due to the presence of CI-L the communities have learned to protect their environment and have prohibited the killing of sea turtles.
The revelation from him was corroborated by several others from the three communities including Mr. Weah Blamo, Town Chief of Nyangba community.