MONROVIA – The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and its partners, over the weekend, conducted a one-day legislative retreat for members of the National Legislature to discuss draft amendments and Restatement being proposed to the 2016 National Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management Law of Liberia. The Bill seeks to improve the legal framework governing wildlife management, protection, and utilization.
The retreat was held at the Farmington Hotel on June 18, 2022, with members of the House’s Committee on Forestry Agriculture and Fisheries, Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Mining, the committee on Judiciary, and the committee on Executive. Invited to the meeting were also members of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, the Committee on Environment, Mines and Energy, the Committee on Judiciary, and the Committee on Public Corporation. In total, 12 members of the Upper and Lower Houses attended the event. Also in attendance was the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Chairman of the Liberia Land Authority and the Deputy Director for Technical Services of the National Fishery and Aquaculture Authority (NaFAA).
In 2020, the FDA commenced the process for amending and restating the current wildlife law to ensure compliance and conformity with the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). After over two years of researching, redrafting and consultation with stakeholders, the Amended Wildlife Law was forwarded to the Office of the President. The proposed Bill is divided into three parts. The first is a general provision section of the Bill. The second part of the Bill addresses Wildlife Conservation and Protected Area Management in an integrated way by considering national interest while integrating the principles of international conventions to which Liberia has acceded. The final part of the Bill addresses international trade in wild fauna and flora using the safeguards under CITES. It is important to note that Liberia became a party to the CITES Convention, a global agreement among governments to regulate or ban international trade in species under threat, on March 11, 1981.
The retreat was one of the many steps intended to provide background information to lawmakers on the scientific, economic and social significance of Liberia’s rich biodiversity and wildlife along with the unprovoked threats these critically threatened and endangered species face. More so, the retreat offered an opportunity for direct engagement between FDA, its international partners, and lawmakers. This allowed for a constructive dialogue regarding the proposed changes in the new law and the implication on Liberia’s political and social-cultural systems. As anticipated, lawmakers raised issues regarding alternative livelihoods for forest-dependent people in anticipation of the national quest to conserve biodiversity. In response, the Managing Director of FDA, Hon. C. Mike Doryen noted that the law does not prohibit utilization of forest resources, but is intended to ensure sustainable management and utilization of these resources. He continued that species which are endangered and threatened due to over-harvesting, or their general rarity in terms of population and distribution needs to be protected by the government, as a form of intergenerational justice. He concluded that the harvesting of species that are not threatened, rare, or endangered and form a critical component of the nutritional tradition of Liberians needs to be regulated and will not be prohibited.
The engagement was funded by USAID through its Conservation Works Activity (CWA) project, which is five-years funding from the United States Government to support conservation efforts in Liberia. The project, valued at 19.5 million United States Dollars is being implemented through a consortium headed by Ecohealth Alliance with partners including Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue, and Protection (LCRP), Partners in Development (PaDEV), and Solimar International.