Liberia inaugurates National Wetlands Committee

06/07/2005

The Ramsar Secretariat is pleased to announce that Liberia has recently established a National Wetlands Committee.

Despite the instability the country has experienced in relation to its civil conflict, Liberia ratified the Ramsar Convention on the 2nd November 2003. In January 2005, the Liberian Government began a Post-Conflict Wetland Assessment Project funded by the Ramsar Swiss Grant for Africa (SGA) and the Ramsar Small Grant Funds (SGF). The project has three main aims:

  • first, it is in the process of producing a status report of some major wetlands that have the potential of being designated as Ramsar sites, some of which were identified during pre-war periods, with the intention to collect and collate relevant data for the designation of four sites of international importance;
  • secondly, it aims to establish a National Wetlands Committee;
  • and lastly it will prepare a National Wetland Policy outline for Liberia.

As reported by Ramsar's Focal point in Liberia, Ralph Woods, on June 9 2005 the First National Stakeholders' Meeting was held at the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia. This meeting was attended by a cross section of the population involving government institutions, local and international NGOs, lawyers and the House Senate Standing Committee Chairman on the environment. The agenda items for this meeting were to:

  1. discuss and resolve to the establishment of a National Wetland Committee in Liberia;
  2. discuss and develop a national policy outline; and
  3. identify strategies for cooperation and collaboration amongst stakeholders' institutions for addressing wetland issues in Liberia.

At the end of this meeting stakeholders' institutions established the Liberian Wetland Committee electing the Ministry of Agriculture as the Chair, Ministry of Health as the Deputy Chair, and the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia as the Secretary General. Official communications were prepared and sent to heads of each institution informing them of permanent selected individuals for representation on the committee.

Also at the end of the meeting, a technical subcommittee was established to draw up a national wetland policy outline for Liberia. Some stringent measures will need to be established for the management and wise use of some of the country's identified wetlands, which are threatened by issues such as mangrove over-exploitation, waste dumping, oil spillage and pollutants by chemicals. Monitoring programmes will also need to be established, in order to determine the health of these systems and ensure their sustainability. It is expected that the National Wetland Committee will establish a subcommittee that will incorporate WSSD targets and actions into the National Wetland Policy.

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