Developing an inclusive, multi-sectoral approach that engages communities in management of protected areas, gives them a stake in their long-term protection, to conserve Liberia’s rich biodiversity and ensure improved sustainable livelihoods and long-term economic growth and prosperity.
- Client: United States Agency for International Development
- Partners: EcoHealth Alliance, Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue and Protection (LCRP), and Partners in Development (PADEV)
- Project Duration: November 1, 2021 - October 31, 2026
Liberia is home to the last large tracts of the once vast Upper Guinean Rainforest, with more than 40% of the remaining forests. These largely intact ecosystems contain the highest levels of biodiversity in the region and habitat for critically-endangered western chimpanzees. Combatting threats to Liberia’s forests through innovative protected area development and management is critical if we are to save the country’s forest ecosystems, threatened and endangered species, and their role in supporting sustainable rural livelihoods and providing valuable ecosystem services.
The establishment of legally protected areas is one of the most important factors determining the protection of key habitat. However, establishing PAs does not work in isolation. Local communities are more likely to support establishing and managing PAs when they perceive the benefits of ecosystem services through natural capital assessments and access to livelihood alternatives that reduce ecosystem degradation. Our proposed approach engages communities in management of PAs, gives them a stake in long-term PA protection, thus securing Liberia’s rich biodiversity, enabling forest connectivity within the PA network, and ensures improved sustainable livelihoods and long-term economic growth and prosperity.
To promote the high value of protected areas and conservation-compatible livelihood and revenue generation, our Consortium will uniquely add a One Health dimension to bring together diverse disciplines and institutional capabilities well suited to achieve USAID’s goals to conserve biodiversity and enable sustainable economic growth. Accordingly, we propose to strengthen PAs and other strategic locations in Liberia with PPA networks by establishing One Health Conservation Centers. These centers will support protected area development, gazettement and legal strengthening, and serve as focal points for a variety of activities that serve the Scientific, Academic, Volunteer and Educational (SAVE) tourism market while simultaneously providing economic opportunities to local communities.
Our model is forward-thinking, built on existing local work and interest demonstrating how protected areas can be widely mainstreamed across national and local activities and markets. We will create effective capacity and incentives that promote ecosystem and species protection, facilitate equity, and increase prosperity and local ownership. Our consortium will show that, by moving from a siloed approach to an inclusive, multi-sectoral one, conservation works.
- Developed an enhanced Business and Investment Environment in Liberia by reviewing the current GoL tourism and investment policy framework
- Improve the tourism-related access and infrastructure through assessing current capacity and identifying improvement points. This will include drafting trail development plans for ENNR and at least 2 priority Proposed Protected Areas, convening a domestic aviation working group, charting river access and navigability within priority Proposed Protected Areas, and assessing feeder road conditions.
- Develop and support the tourism industry in Liberia, resulting in increased number of tourists in targeted landscapes, through capacity building at national and local levels, and private sector engagement. Capacity building will include piloting teaching modules and vocational training focused on ecotourism, establishing One Health Conservation and Research training hubs, initiating connections with international research institutes and universities, and supporting The Liberia Ecotourism Coordination Platform. The private sector will also be engaged through public-private-community partnerships and community-based ecotourism in communities.
- Support activities as needed and outlined under the other intermediate results to include: increase the number of Proposed Protected Areas that are legally recognized as Protected Areas, improve protection and management of target Proposed Protected Area and Protected Area landscapes at the local and national level, increase prosperity and prospects for communities living around protected areas, and advance the integration of protected areas within One Health policy, planning and prioritization in Liberia.
- At least 25 ecotourism-focused enterprises established in target landscapes via public-private-community partnerships, with over 200 jobs created and an average of at least 150 visitors attracted annually over five years
- Create a minimum of two new PAs (with one additional PPA in final stages of establishment), using a participatory approach that is rights-based and promotes long term sustainability
- Improve management and protection of 5 PAs and PPAs (over 400 ha), improved technical and institutional capacity in both the FDA and local communities surrounding PAs and PPAs
- Ameliorate livelihood conditions of 12,500 beneficiaries (direct and indirect) have as a result of project intervention