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UNESCO to establish biosphere reserves in Liberia

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The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO begins a three-day training that would lead to the establishment of a transboundary biosphere reserve in Monrovia.

Speaking Wednesday, 24th April at the start of the training in Monrovia, UNESCO Regional Director based in Abuja, Nigeria Mr. Yao Ydo says the ‘Man and the Biosphere’ (MAB) program was created to develop the basis for rational and sustainable use and conservation of resources of the biosphere, and for the improvement of the overall relationship between people and their environment.

The training is expected to strengthen the capacity of Liberian and Guinean MAB national committee members and environmental experts.

According to UNESCO, the concept of the biosphere reserve is to promote the three interconnected functions–conservation, development and logistic support as well as foster the harmonious integration of people and nature for sustainable development, which is done through participatory dialogue, knowledge sharing, poverty reduction, human well-being improvements, respect for cultural value, and improving society’s ability to cope with climate change.

Mr. Ydo notes that Liberia has no biosphere reserve as a result of lack of Man and the Biosphere (MAB) National Committee, adding that in Guinea, “There are four biosphere reserves (Mount Nimba 1980, Massif du Ziama 1980, Badiar 2002, and Haut Niger 2002).’’

“There is a need for MAB National committees of Africa member states to intensify efforts in processing the nomination of important natural sites as biosphere reserves especially sites that are transboundary between two countries as transboundary,’’ he adds.

He narrates that transboundary fosters peace, encourages collaborative activities at bilateral sub-regional and regional levels and contributes to the development of the MAB World Network of biosphere reserves. It also promotes the exchange of information and experience between different countries as well as benefit from World Network Biosphere Reserves program.

Mr. Ydo notes that the training workshop, which is focusing on strengthening the capacity of Liberia and Guinea MAB National Committee Members and Environmental experts will commence the process of completing the nomination dossier for the establishment of a transboundary biosphere reserve at Wonegizi area at the boarder of Liberia and Guinea.

“The Wonegizi site is already target site of a REDD initiative and seems to have the potential of becoming a transboundary biosphere reserved,’’ he says.

UNESCO in 2017 organized the AfriMAB General Assembly in Nigeria, where biosphere reserves managers and environmental experts from member states, including Liberia and Guinea were trained. They learned how to effectively manage their biosphere reserves, forest reserves and establish new national and transbondary biosphere reserves for joint management of natural resources.

The Deputy Executive Director of Liberia’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mr. Randall M. Dobayon says the EPA in collaboration with UNESCO is conducting the training to bring members from the two countries in establishing the transboundary reserve between Liberia and Guinea.

Mr. Dobayon said the establishment of the Transboundary Biosphere Reserves will help attract investors and other tourist purposes.

The three-day training is organized by UNESCO in partnership with the EPA and it brings together environmental experts from Guinea and Liberia with several government agencies, including the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism and Forestry Development Authority, among others.

In Africa, there are about seventy-nine (79) biosphere reserves in twenty-eight (28) countries, while in the West Africa sub-region within the jurisdiction of the Regional Office in Abuja, there are thirteen (13) National Biosphere reserves and one transboundary between Togo and Benin Republics.
By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne

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