Participants along with facilitators posed after the eventA non-governmental organization called National Coalition of Liberia (NCL) has elevated its strategic plan dialogue towards accountability, competence and transparency as a new management assumes office.NCL is a conglomeration of local NGOs that are working with a similar vision geared towards elevating the livelihood of people in poverty and creating a level playing field between government, concession companies and locals.In an effort to ensure that its objectives are realized, the NCL held a five-day retreat, which came to an end over the weekend at the entity’s resource center in Dwazon, Margibi County. It included the preparation of a five-year strategic plan intended to re-engage collaborating actors, to enhance the proper use of natural resources.NCL’s chairperson of management team Samuel Kwennah told the Daily Observer that the round-table dialogue focuses not only on conflict resolution in the management of natural resources, but also seeks to strengthen peaceful coexistence among member NGOs within the coalition.“NCL is critical to good governance. As such, we are interested in seeing that there is proper management of natural resource sectors, which include forests,” Mr. Kwennah said.He added that there is impact from his coalition’s engagements with communities, concession companies, and the government.“Through our advocacy in 2015, 24 communities benefited from concession companies that failed to undertake their social corporate responsibilities; government also paid over US$1million to the natural resource governance trustee board for some development in the affected areas,” he said.“With the funds generated from government and companies by the trustee board, which is a part of NCL, a vocational center was built in Yarpah Town, River Cess County,” he said.Kwennah further said that an elementary school was built in Zoegar Bayo Town, in Grand Bassa County, while two clinics were built in River Gee County.“In Grand Gedeh County, we have succeeded in establishing a guesthouse and two elementary schools were built from the same advocacy as in Lofa,” he said.Kwennah is the program manager for the extractive industry and human rights program of Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU), which is a member NGO to the NCL.He said the formation of NCL was predicated upon a survey, which showed that conflicts, including the civil war that erupted over the years, came as a result of disenchantment over the poor management of natural resources.Mina Beyan, program director of Social Entrepreneurs for Sustainable Development (SESDev), expressed how impressed she was with the level of collaboration among the NCL member organizations, and hoped more success stories can be told in the near future.She added that her NGO also provides legal support to local communities in Grand Kru, Sinoe, and a few other counties in the southeast. “Knowing that we are interested in engendering change, we advocate for the government to push concession companies to live up to their commitments. The people need good roads to transport their farm produce to markets, schools to educate their children, clinics for proper medical care and other social benefits necessary for elevating their living standards,” she said.“Although there are laws giving more leverage to County Legislative Caucuses to decide on what kind of development is carried out in their constituencies, we think there is a need for the local people to have more say in what they want; be it school, clinic or road,” Beyan said.A facilitator at Community Development Initiative (CDI) Nettie Diagor said more awareness and support are needed to help save forests and mangrove swamps from degradation.“People think that mangrove swamps are wastelands and so they throw trash in them and abuse them in so many other different ways,” Diagor said. “In Grand Cape Mount where we presently work, 13 communities fell trees for charcoal burning and constant and excessive fishing at Lake Piso are on the rise.”She noted that there is no need, however, to blame the residents involved in degrading forests by felling trees and extracting lots of fish from Lake Piso, because those activities are serving as their means of survival.“This is why CDI is now helping them do sustainable farming [small farms for food and little cash earning for family needs]. We are in collaboration with REDD+ of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), helping them with tools to work and educating them also on how they should make their vegetable beds for a fruitful harvest,” she said.The strategic plan dialogue workshop, which was facilitated by a team of experts in natural resource management, included Sarah Thomas from the University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom.NCL is composed of 20 CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) and was formed in 2003 at the Accra Peace Accord (CPA) that brought an end to the protracted civil war and shared power among the warring factions in the transitional government.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
There’s always the disturbing part in those nature documentaries – when the adorable little ones wind up as a meal for some other predator. Mother Nature is a harsh mistress, but there’s nothing natural about the way common ravens have decimated the struggling desert tortoise. A plan to control ravens will soon be implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency charged with protecting endangered species. “There are problems with ravens that attack and eat juvenile tortoises,” said Carl Benz, assistant field supervisor in the agency’s Ventura office. “If we can reduce predation, it will be an important step in recovery” for the tortoise. Raven populations exploded sevenfold in the western Mojave, scientists estimate. The population in the Mojave and Colorado deserts of California is thought to range between 30,000 and 45,000 birds. Juvenile tortoises provide a ready meal. The shells don’t get hard enough to withstand a raven’s beak until the slow-moving reptile is 4 years to 7 years old. “As the shell develops, it gets stronger so it can stave off the pecks from a raven,” Boarman said. Given that tortoises don’t reach reproductive age until they’re 13 to 15, losing the younger generation makes it impossible for the population to remain stable, much less recover. An adult, fertile female desert tortoise lays close to six eggs a year, but most of the hatchlings are lost to predation. Recovery plans for the threatened reptile likened the desert tortoise to the California condor, the black rhino and the blue whale – all of which are in danger of extinction. It’s much easier for other species, including ravens, which can reproduce at ages 2 or 3, to generate a lot of new members in a hurry. It doesn’t help that tortoises are most active in the spring, during the same time the ravens are raising their hatchlings and most need food, Boarman said. The plan preferred by the Fish and Wildlife Service is to restrict the food and water sources available to ravens, and to remove or kill ravens that are clearly preying on tortoises. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The threatened desert tortoise has seen its populations plummet as it faces a gantlet of threats: habitat loss, disease, vehicles, livestock, and ravens. “Tortoises are threatened by the death of 1,000 cuts,” said William Boarman, a tortoise researcher. Ravens used to be rare in the desert, with limited food, water or nesting sites. In the 1940s, naturalists had a hard time even finding ravens in the Mojave Desert. But as humans spread across the desert, the crow-like black birds flocked behind, able to find food in landfills, trash cans, campgrounds and outside restaurants. Power poles, billboards, buildings, and even abandoned cars provided a vast network of places to build their nests.