Working for birds in Africa

Conservation

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 14:33 -- abc_admin

Liberia emerged nearly two decades ago from a civil war (1990 – 2003), and has settled, with three peaceful presidential terms since. Government resources for biodiversity conservation activities are rather limited, however, and international assistance in the form of expertise, capacity building, and finance is essential to conservation in Liberia. The government’s forest management arm, the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) therefore works with other GOs and NGOs to conduct activities in forests for commercial, community, and conservation needs.

The Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia (SCNL) is the local Bird Life Partner, and most bird conservation projects are led by them. Fauna & Flora International, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, and Conservation International also carry out biodiversity work across several genres which account for a good portion of avian surveys. Various local and international NGOs have offices at the headquarters of protected areas alongside the FDA. There is some overlap of outcomes, and this has led to a uniquely collaborative conservation society in Liberia. Working groups are formed for various themes comprised of representatives from different organizations making decisions and aligning activities from different funds toward successful conservation in Liberia.

>There are many projects aimed towards the conservation of habitats for endangered or important species and useful ecosystem functions. This work is accomplished through identification of rich and essential areas for conservation, the process of gazetting and community engagement, biodiversity monitoring, and protected area maintenance through awareness and law enforcement. The current protected area network include 3 National Parks (Sapo, Gola, Grebo-Krahn), the East Nimba Strict Nature Reserve, and the Lake Piso Multiple Use Reserve, with a sixth, the Wonegizi Forest in the process of gazetting. The existing five protected areas cover an area of 4,548 km2 about 4.1 % of the country’s area.

The country’s nine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) are monitored annually by SCNL. The Sapo Conservation Centre is Liberia’s first and only conservation research institute. It is located at the headquarters of the Sapo National Park in Sinoe County, and is managed by Fauna & Flora International.

A few remote parts of Liberia remain relatively unexplored for ornithological purposes, but there is a lot of work being done in conservation areas around the country. While local ornithological expertise is limited, research projects, training, and conservation activities have enabled many birding experts to visit Liberia’s natural areas and document the country’s bounty of avian life. Natural areas including protected areas are faced with threats due to illegal and rampant hunting and mining, as well as fragmentation and degradation from logging and agricultural activities. Most hunting is targeted at mammal species, but some hunting of large birds such as turacos, rails, hornbills, and guineafowl have been documented. There is also a small pet trade for parrots, parakeets, and other smaller colourful species.

Liberia is party to several international environmental conventions including Biological Diversity, International Trade of Endangered Species, the RAMSAR Wetlands Convention, Reducing Emissions through Deforestation and forest Degradation+, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, and Tropical Timber 83 & 94.

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