IRDNC Zambezi hosted visitors from Liberia on a learning exchange trip earlier in the year. The trip consisted of three officials, the Deputy Director Forest Development Authority, Mr. Darlington Taugben, the Sapo National Park Warden Mr Jallah Johnson and Ms Mary Molokwu-Odozi from Flora & Fauna International (FFI).
The main purpose of the exchange trip was to learn from the Namibian CBNRM experience. The FFI planned this study trip for the Forest Development Authority (FDA), as they plan to introduce a community-based management structure for forests surrounding the Sapo National Park in Liberia. CBNRM is new and almost non-existent in Liberia and many projects that attempt to embark on similar initiatives have not been successful, partly because they have struggled to effectively build capacity of local communities to independently manage their forests. Also, communities have not been fully convinced that any benefits could come from managing forests sustainably for wildlife conservation. With the few community forests established across Liberia, communities prefer to manage these forests for logging because they gain monetary benefits, which they do not foresee with biodiversity conservation.
FFI was most interested in learning (and showing FDA) how communities’ capacity could be built in community-led natural resource management, enterprise development, governance and conflict resolution as well as benefits that could be gained from conservation. They were particularly interested in tourism joint venture models and the traditional governance structures to combat wildlife crime.