GRASP with partners in Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire advance plans for the creation of a biodiversity corridor
From the 5th to the 6th October 2009, the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) and the Great Apes Survival Partnership/United Nations Environment Programme (GRASP-UNEP) in collaboration with other partners [Forestry Development Authority (FDA) of Liberia; Office Ivoirien des Parcs et Réserves (OIPR) and Société de Développement des Forets (SODEFOR) of Côte d’Ivoire] organized a workshop to initiate transboundary collaboration between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia for the creation of the Taï-Sapo forest complex.
Under the patronage of the Minister for the Environment, Water and Forests of Côte d’Ivoire, more than 100 participants from both countries from various ministries, donor organizations, development agencies, research institutions, local and regional public services, national and international NGOs as well as representatives from the local communities were present.
Spanning the border of Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia are remnant fragments of one the most important ecosystems within the Upper Guinea Forest Region. These lowland forests form the largest block of relatively intact tropical rainforests in West Africa. They are also home to more than a quarter of Africa’s mammals, including 12 species of primates, important chimpanzee populations, and endemic species such as pygmy hippos and forest elephants.
Over the course of two days of intensive reflection, the following resolutions were proposed:
Regarding the research on the structure and mechanisms of transboundary collaboration:
- Establish a steering committee, consisting of protected area managers, NGOs and donors, which will draft the terms of references for technical committees and supervise their work.
- The three technical committees will focus on economic incentives to conserve biodiversity, landscape management planning including the establishment of corridors and legislation.
- All technical committees will undertake proper stakeholder consultation, gap analysis and targeted studies.
- The recommendations for urgent actions and more long term solutions will form chapters of a transboundary plan.
Regarding the analysis of the legislation and law implementation concerning the transboundary corridor:
- Ensure the convergence of the respective national legislations through harmonisation and amendments in a transboundary context
- Strengthen the enforcement of existing laws through legal and technical measures such as incentives for local foresters, training of magistrates and the participation of all stakeholders.
- Severely sanction illicit activities within the protected area network, such as the bush meat trade, agricultural activities and mining, in the Tai-Sapo corridor .
Regarding the analysis of ecosystem service payments for the sustainable management of the corridor:
- Employing payments for environmental services (PES), an emerging conservation tool that provides economic incentives to land managers, can make natural ecosystem conservation an economically viable land use.
- In particular, reforestation and avoiding deforestation in the Tai-Sapo corridor can bring carbon market finance from developed countries to the corridor. Locally, finance from private sector water companies can help protect watersheds and so provide water quality to downstream users.
- Through research into provision of environmental services, community land use decision-making processes, and with knowledge and capacity building, pilot PES schemes shall be developed.
- In the long-term, successful implementation can provide a source of sustainable financing for conservation efforts in the Tai-Sapo corridor.
Regarding land use planning for the establishment of a transboundary corridor:
- Ten landscape corridors critical to ensure the ecological sustainability and integrity of the Tai-Sapo complex; focusing on the key species, unique habitats and critical ecosystem functions, were identified.
- Three types of corridors were classified: Existing corridors between protected areas that need monitoring; existing corridors that are highly threatened and need immediate response action and new corridors that need to be created to connect protected areas. Many of these corridors will require transboundary collaboration.
- Transboundary collaboration and management actions were identified to set up these critical corridors as well as addressing the threats to the Tai-Sapo complex.
Regarding the research on prevention and resolution of conflicts in the context of transboundary collaboration:
- The establishment of a corridor may create or exacerbate conflicts, such as those related to the lack of institutional coordination or community grievances over lack of access to forest-derived benefits.
- But it may also have peace-building opportunities by promoting dialogue and cooperation at different levels over the shared interests of development and biodiversity conservation.
- Parties and collaborators must devote resources towards identifying these risks and opportunities, employing conflict-sensitive approach.
UNEP GRASP Coordinator, Dr. Johannes Refisch noted that “The active participation and commitment from delegates and government officials from both Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire is a very positive sign”. He reiterated that “this represents only the first steps in a long term integrated approach for conservation in the region which could result in enhanced opportunities for biodiversity conservation, community development and peace building”.
GRASP is a joint initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNESCO. www.unep.org/grasp
For additional information, please contact:
Dr. Johannes Refisch GRASP Acting Coordinator, United Nations Environment Programme, PO Box 30552, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: (+254) 20 762 4517, Fax: (254) 20 762 4249, email / E-mail: Johannes. [email protected], web: http://www.unep.org/grasp/
Johann Jenson GRASP Technical Consultant, United Nations Environment Programme, PO Box 30552, 00100 Nairobi, Kena, Tel: (+254) 20 762 5260, Fax: (+254) 20 762 4249, email: [email protected], web: http://www.unep.org/grasp