Top: Trainers and trainees of the Tonglay Community Forest Inventory training. The DayLight/Varney Kamara
By Varney Kamara
BOPOLU, Gbarpolu County – Two dozen villagers in Gbarpolu have started training on the collection of information on how they will manage their community forest.
Leaders of the Tonglay Community Forest in the Kongba District of Gbarpolu County on Tuesday began gathering data on the soil, timbers and landscape, and animals in their 19,000-hectare woodland. After the weeklong, event they would go on to take stock in the forest, which will inform their decision on how to manage the forest.
“This thing will make us to learn how to properly look at our forest,” said McGill Wulleh, Paramount Chief of Tonglay Clan. “It will help us to reduce illicit activities in our bush.”
One of 47 authorized forest communities in Liberia, Tonglay is a major corridor between Gola National Park in Liberia and Sierra Leone, home to different endemic and endangered plant and animal species. The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) approved Tonglay’s request after completing legal requirements provided in the Community Rights Law of 2009 with Respect to Forest Lands.
“This will enhance the effective management and protection of the community forest,” James Mulbah of the Society for the Conservation of Nature Liberia (SCNL), a nongovernmental organization that guided the community obtain community forest status, and is conducting the training.
“The outcome of this data collection process will determine whether or not the community will engage in legal commercial activities such as logging, mining, or even ecotourism business,” Mulbah added. “We expect the capacity of community members to be fully developed to ensure that they are best placed to monitor activities across their vast forestland.”
The initiative is funded by the European Union under the European Union Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) program.