Presidents further their commitment to peace, cooperation and fighting climate change.
President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone have further underlined their commitment to a Transboundary Peace Park Project to protect the Gola Rainforest during a press event at the fourth European Development Days Conference in Stockholm.
The presidents' press statement at the European Development Days Conference strongly noted the effect of climate change on their countries and noted that "Through the Transboundary Peace Park Project we have demonstrated our commitment to be part of the solution."
Both presidents reiterated their commitment by stating that "this project is therefore a symbol of our renewed commitment to peace and stability in the sub-region" and that this is a "joint commitment to forest conservation and the fight against climate change."
The Presidents also strongly positioned themselves in supporting the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation in Developing Countries (REDD), which focuses on joint cooperation between developed and developing countries to avert deforestation.
The presidents ended their statement by saying that "there is every reason for us to protect the Gola Forest on both sides of the border, since doing so will ensure that it will continuously provide ecological services to the surrounding communities. A protected Gola Forest will further increase the resilience of the ecosystem to climate change and play an important role in global climate stabilisation."
This event closely follows the Launch in May 2009, by the two presidents of the Transboundary Peace Park Project. The May launch was held in Lalehun, on the border of the Gola Forest in Sierra Leone. The Peace Park will establish a huge protected area covering over 2,000 km2 that will protect one of the largest remaining frontiers of the Upper Guinea Rainforest. These rainforests, as well as holding vast carbon stores that will help in the fight against climate change, also are home to some of the world's most threatened species of wildlife such as Pygmy Hippo, Forest Elephant and 14 species of threatened birds.
"This project is a symbol of our renewed commitment to peace and stability in the sub-region" —President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone
The Peace Park unites the Gola Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone (75,000 ha) and the Lofa and Foya Forest Reserves in Liberia (80,000 ha and 100,000 ha respectively), with additional forest to provide corridors for the movement of wildlife between them.
The work to establish the Peace Park has involved several conservation organisations in the BirdLife International Partnership, the two national BirdLife Partners (Conservation Society of Sierra Leone and Society for the Conservation of Nature in Liberia), the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK), Vogelbescherming (BirdLife in The Netherlands), working together with the Forest Development Authority (FDA) of Liberia, and the Forestry Division in Sierra Leone.
The BirdLife Partnership, which is already working on a 4.2 million Euro project to protect Sierra Leone’s Gola Forest, funded by the European Union (EU) and FFEM (French Government), has secured an additional 3.2 million Euros to fund the four-year project to establish the 200,000 ha protected area from the EU, with the balance made up from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), and the Sustainable & Thriving Environments for West African Regional Development (STEWARD) Program of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US Forest Service, International Programs. CEPF is a joint initiative of Conservation International, the French Development Agency, the government of Japan, the Global Environment Facility, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank.
The BirdLife's Partnerships work in the Upper Guinea forests for the past 20 years has involved many organisations and institutions. The new work is with funding from the EU, the USAID STEWARD Program, and CEPF. Other project financingin recent years has come from the EU, the Global Conservation Fund, the UK Darwin Initiative, and FFEM of the Agence Française de Développement.
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