Government Honors Leaders for Successful Eviction of Illegal Occupants in Liberia’s Sapo National Park

In a grand celebration held at the Greenville City Hall in Sinoe County, Liberia, the government, in collaboration with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and other partners, honored numerous regional and traditional leaders, local government officials, and judicial officials from Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, and River Gee Counties for their exceptional service.

The recognition was a result of their tireless efforts over the years alongside the FDA and partners to remove illegal occupants from the Sapo National Park (SNP). This achievement has granted the park a newfound freedom, aligning with its original purpose.

The event commenced with a vibrant parade through the principal streets of Greenville City on July 18, 2023, in commemoration of the 2023 World Chimpanzee Day.

The government emphasized that this successful eviction of illegal occupants, which has provided some breathing space for the park, would not have been possible without the involvement of the wise traditional leaders. Their traditional approach led to a peaceful resolution and the removal of those who had caused significant destruction within the park for an extended period.

Jerry Yonmah, the Technical Manager for Conservation, spoke on behalf of the government and FDA, expressing that the honor bestowed upon these individuals was well-deserved.

He described the honorees as men and women of virtue who have consistently defended and preserved the SNP, a national heritage.

Yonmah urged them to continue their admirable efforts for the benefit of present and future generations.

He also assured them that the government and FDA are finalizing plans to support their continued surveillance of the park for the next six months, followed by the development of a collaborative management framework to enhance park management.

Taking advantage of the occasion, Yonmah appealed to all Liberian citizens to recognize the nation’s natural wealth. He emphasized how our foreign friends and residents are captivated by the abundant riches we possess.

Yonmah expressed gratitude to all FDA collaborating partners, including Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and the USAID/Conservation Works consortium, for their invaluable support.

He stressed the importance of maintaining a strong partnership to transform Liberia into a conservation-friendly country.

The honorees were officially presented to the FDA by FFI, an organization that has played a vital role in the park’s landscape.

Matthew Varney, the Project Manager based in the SNP, reiterated FFI’s unwavering commitment to ensuring the park’s protection and pledged to work closely with the communities to achieve this vision.

Chief Emmanuel S. Wesseh, the Traditional Council Chair, expressed gratitude on behalf of his colleagues for the honor bestowed upon them by the government and FDA.

He acknowledged the treasure that is the Sapo National Park and promised to employ traditional methods to remain vigilant against criminals who may threaten its integrity.

Wesseh expressed hope that the FDA and its partners would fulfill their promises and address the concerns of the communities.

Located in Sinoe County, the SNP was established in 1983 as Liberia’s first protected area.

It remains the country’s largest protected area and is home to the second-largest expanse of primary tropical rainforest in the Upper Guinea Rainforest Ecoregion in West Africa, second only to Taï National Park in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire.

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