GRASP Promotes Trans-Boundary Process in W. Africa
A trans-boundary process to promote wildlife and habitat conservation in the Tai-Sapo Forest Complex between Libera and Cote d’Ivoire is back on track following a two-day steering committee meeting that was held March 20-21 in Abdijan.
The Tai-Sapo Forest Complex is home to numerous endangered species, including the Western chimpanzee, which numbers less than 1,000 in that landscape.
Delegates crafted a vision statement that emphasized “conservation of biodiversity and participatory sustainable management of natural resources” while ensuring the “well-being” of local communities.
The meeting included government representatives from Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire, along conservation organizations and technical and financial supporters. The Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) contributed trans-boundary corridor management expertise to the meeting.
The trans-boundary process began in 2009, but was delayed due to civil unrest and political instability in the region.
Official Press Release
Abidjan, 21 March 2013–
Spanning across the Côte d’Ivoire and Liberian border, the Taï-Sapo Forest Complex forms part of the world’s 34 biodiversity hotspot and is extremely important for the conservation of numerous endangered species, most notably the rare and endangered Western chimpanzee. The forest is home to various endemic and endangered species such as the red colobus monkey, the pygmy hippopotamus, various exotic species of duikers, and the Liberian mongoose. Overall, this remarkable tropical forest habitat harbors over 1,200 species of flora (300 of which are endemic), over 230 bird species, 145 mammal species, and numerous other rare and endemic species.
Some less-studied ecosystems of the complex, notably the aquatic ecosystems, promise sstill new discoveries of yet unknown species. The Tai-Sapo Forest Complex represents the largest contiguous bloc of tropical rainforest within the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem. In Cote d’Ivoire, it consists of the Taï National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), a Man Biosphere site, three adjacent classified forests (Cavally, Goin-Débé, Haute-Dodo). In Liberia, it consists of Sapo National Park, Grebo National Forest (>900 km² of which is been proposed to be transformed into a national park) and several large forest concessions in Liberia. With the aim of managing the different forest fragments while encouraging connectivity, the two governments have been working together with both local and international actors since 2009to initiate this transboundary collaboration.
In order to push forward this collaboration, focal members from both countries met on the 20th and 21st of March 2013. Focal members are the Office Ivoirien des Parcs et Réserves, the Forestry Development Authority and the Société de Developpement des Forêts, as well as NGOs (Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, Fauna and Flora International), and a technical/financial partner (Kfw) and the Mano River Union (MRU). An expert in transboundary corridor management from UNEP/GRASP accompanies the whole process. The Committee was also supported by observers from the NGO Afrique Nature International, Fondation des Parcs et Reserves, GIZ and WWF.
During the workshop the members proposed and agreed on the global vision of the Forest Complex:
• Conservation of biodiversity and participatory sustainable management of natural resources of the ecosystems of the TSFC all the while taking into account the well-being of the local populations
Today, the pressure to exploit the last natural resources is becoming more and more important in the Protected Areas. As such, the committee addressed the least of immediate threats and the urgent actions that should be implemented to mitigate these threats and protect West Africa’s Natural heritage.
During two days, the members of the committee defined the role and function of the steering committee and the technical committees associated to themes regarding legislation, land-use and payment of environmental services as well as the conflict prevention and resolution platform. The main role of the Steering committee is to promote and encourage transboundary collaboration to reach the objectives leading to the global vision.