IUCN - Liberia joins IUCN family

Liberia joins IUCN family

27 February 2009 | News story

The Government of the Republic of Liberia has officially announced its decision to join IUCN becoming the 87th state member of the world's largest and oldest environmental network.

Liberia is the country with the largest remaining portion of the Upper Guinea Moist Forest ecosystem of West Africa. It is estimated that the country contains 42% of the remaining Guinea Moist Forest. The Sapo National Park is the country's largest protected area and contains the second-largest block of primary tropical rainforest in the West Africa sub-region after the Taï National Park in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire.

“Liberia’s admission will strengthen the environmental coalition in the sub region and facilitate our partnership with and work in a country that in spite of civil conflicts and other difficulties, has managed to conserve significant portions of biodiversity areas, including an important Upper Guinea Moist Forest cover. Liberia is also only the second Anglophone country in the PACO (West and Central Africa Programme) region to join IUCN, the vast majority being Francophone”, said IUCN’s west and central Africa Regional Director, Dr Aimé J. Nianogo

The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) will be the liaison of IUCN's newest member with its Secretariat. With the country’s biodiversity largely devastated by its seven years war that ended in 1996, the government through the FDA engaged with partners in 1997 to revive key biodiversity conservation hotspots including the Sapo National Park. The desire for conservation led to the creation of the Liberia Forest Initiative (LFI), a loose group of national and international forest partners.

IUCN was actively involved in the preliminary studies that led to the creation of the Sapo National Park, enjoying one of the richest floral diversity in the country, including a large number of endemic species. The Park hosts about 125 different types of mammals, 590 different types of birds, and a large number of threatened species.

IUCN remained an active partner of Liberia until the outbreak of the civil war in 1989 and revived its support to the country by joining the Liberia Forest Initiative fifteen years later.

Despite the remarkable results the country and its partners have achieved so far, hunting and the consumption of wild animals is known to have increased significantly recently, following the increasingly important appearance of roads and workers who practice illegal forestry development and poaching, inside high conservation value forests.

Poaching now represents the most important threat for a large variety of threatened and endemic species, such as the rare Liberian Mongoose, the Pigmy Hippo, the forest elephant and an important population of chimpanzees.

Another priority intervention will be to recover the ships absorbed and damaged in the ports and along the littoral in order to minimize the risks to marine life and to improve safety at sea.

“We expect IUCN to contribute significantly to the capacity building in the environmental sector because that is our priority in Liberia”, commented the Honourable T. John Woods,Managing Director of the FDA.

Liberia remains an active party to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) which it signed in 1981. The country also ratified the African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, and in 2002, became a party to the Convention on the Protection of the World’s Cultural and Natural Heritage, the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, as well as the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Liberia is also party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) since 2000 and to its Biosafety Protocol since 2002. Other accomplishments include the country’s signature and ratification of the Convention on Desertification in 1998 and its commitment to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer in 1996 as well as becoming a party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that deplete the Ozone layer in the same year.

www.iucn.org/paco

Mrs Monique C. Yigbedek Bisseck, Senior Constituency Support & Development for Central and West Africa, PO.Box 5506 Yaoundé – Cameroon, Phone. +237 22 21 64 96, Fax. +237 22 21 64 97, E-mail : monique.yigbedek@iucn.org