We are a little late submitting this report because this time Neabei was able to get out in the field to illustrate what has happened to the pristine Liberian forests and continues to happen.
As you know the research forest at the University of Liberia’s extension campus in Bensonville was the site of destruction during the many years of civil war in the country. The refugees camped near the university and out of necessity cut all of the trees, many rare and precious woods, to use for charcoal to cook. Neabei’s short, image illustrated report shows the damage that continues to tak place in the country. That’s why we are so excited about the donations we’ve been receiving for this project so that we can…GET PLATING IT! It will give a great boost to this war torn and disease plagued country, they deserve it. Neabei’s report follows:
This summary report depicts some of the numerous ways in which the forests of Liberia are being depleted by the unlawful operations of citizens and even foreigners in the name of survivability.
The forest are becoming very thin as the trees are being cut down for charcoal burning and illegal pit sawing activities.
Subsistent rotational farming activities also have great part to play in the depletion of the Liberian forests whereas there is no reforestation strategy at the level of individual subsistent farmers.
I was on a tour in some of the forest areas to see how the actions of illicit forest families and individuals are depleting the forests.
Hi everyone...I wanted to give a little preview to this progress report. I was traveling and consequently unable to submit this report before the deadline ran out. I knew that it would have to be about the deadly Ebola outbreak in Liberia since my project partner is experiencing it first hand. Talk about synchronicity...yesterday as I sat in the hotel restaurant eating my breakfast Neabei Toah sent me this message and the following story, what better progress report, it fell into my hands. Thank you my friend..."Hello Roberta, how are you doing? I am feeling so guilty that since the Ebola crisis I have not taken any action. This is what I am planning:"
The Ebola virus entered into Liberia from neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone in March, 2014 and has taken away more than 4000 people many of whom were bread winners. The virus continues to take away several lives and no one can predict when the situation will subside as the Center for Disease Control has estimated the effect of the virus by January, 2015 at 1.4 million people to be victimized.
The evil nature of this disease continues to diversify as a tree with several branches. Among many negative impacts of the Ebola virus is the rapid promotion of grudge and hatred among family members, neighbors, and community dwellers. Persons or families victimized by the virus are often ostracized by others and subjected to total neglect and loneliness. It is quite unfortunate that the situation depicts that people would behave in such a way to prevent themselves from getting infected. Some clothes and other household materials of families of Ebola victims are often burned without being replenish.
As we believe that love and compassion can help heal the broken lives of families whose members have been lost to the situation as our intervention, it is therefore glaring that our intervention could reunite community members that have fallen apart in hearts due to this situation and minimum aid could be contributed to help them continue with live. In so doing, there is a need to galvanize ourselves and likeminded people to raise support, mobilize volunteers, used household materials, and finance to quickly respond to these needs.
The World Kindness Liberia is in the process of receiving legal status from the government of Liberia. The organization when established will work with churches, communities and other stakeholders for the purpose of demonstrating kindness.
Directly and indirectly, several individuals, families as well as the nation stand to reap the benefits of our program. By this establishment, I will have a job to do, families that have lost breadwinners to this ugly situation will receive small aid and individuals and communities will begin to coexist mutually once again.
Since our last report we haven’t been sitting around. LRFF has planted over 6000 trees and many of those trees have been collected and planted by local school children in the communities we serve. These are our “stakeholders”, the Guardians of the Future Forests.
The entire student body at the local Jardin de Niños learned why tropical forests are important and how to implement a native reforestation project step by step. First we gave an entertaining presentation about tropical forests and the next week the students came to the La Reserve forest preserve to experience the rich biodiversity of a virgin forest and learn how to collect tree seedlings from the forest floor. They planted these in the nursery we helped them create from recycled containers at the school. Six months from that day (we figure November 2014) we will plant the 200 trees in the side yard of the school to increase the tree species diversity and provide a “living” classroom for future students.
Then on July 17th we planted the last of the 6000 trees in the “For The Monkeys” project. This is the last of the three-project combo that Strack Premier Transportation has been sponsoring in their “Give Back With Strack” Initiative to offset all of the limousine company’s 2013 GHG emissions.
It was a great day, all planned. Gretchen, Jimmy and I arrived at the little elementary school in the center of the village of Delicias. The student body followed us, single file, to the entrance of Elias Cruz’s farm where the final area was waiting to be planted. Even the local police chief came to help out. When we got to the entrance that was the end of single file, the boys took off running to the horror of their teachers who were accompanying us.
The holes were dug and I passed out baby trees to the kids to distribute at each hole. When that was accomplished we all planted the 150 final trees in less than 20 minutes. We walked over to a small area reserved for planting 16 trees purchased for the Commune Utopia in the virtual world of Second Life. Watch the video, we planted 16 trees in just 1 minute.
The happy ending to all of this…the neighbor adjacent to the corridor we just planted on Elias’s property is now waiting for us to fund his own little project of 1½ hectare (4 acres). It will connect and increase the habitat for the monkeys even more. The property is also right across the street in front of the school and Fabio, the owner of the property, is a director of schools working for the Ministry of Education in San Jose.
Another snowball effect of our work…the police chief took us to an even smaller village nearby on the Nicaraguan border where the school wants to reforest the schoolyard of 1 hectare (2 ½ acres) and create a 15 meter biological on the San Ramon river passing through the community of the same name. The environmental destruction in this area has been hidden from view and something must happen soon to save the river and the small lake that’s drying up at nearby Camilla Reserve.
You see, we’ve been busy and this Liberia project is the same story. When it is funded we will get started restoring the University of Liberia’s research forest and then the snowball effect will enable us all to restore all of the beautiful forests that have been destroyed there causing so much sickness, suffering and lack of ecological diversity in this war torn country. Come on everyone…
LET’S GET PLANTING!
Which would you like first, the good news or the bad news? Let’s get the nastiness out of the way first and save the best for last.
Usually when we read about Liberia in West Africa it’s about civil war, economic crises or disease as with the recent recurrence of the deadly Ebola virus. Liberia experienced two civil wars within a 20-year period, one in the 80’s and the other as recently as 2003 and 2004. These civil wars have left the country poor and, as described in this project, ecologically destroyed.
Currently only 3.9% of Liberia’s forests are protected. With the heavy economic necessities the country faces it has decided most recently to go gung ho on the exploitation of mineral extraction and forestry. See the map included showing the proposed development projects. The ban on timber exports was repealed in 2006 and since then over 20,000 square kilometers of forest have already been assigned as forestry concessions and awarded to international and local investors.
Sounds pretty bad, eh? But the good news…an international team of researchers from the Max Planke Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany has just finished “counting” all of the chimpanzees and other large mammals in the country and found something amazing…Liberia has the second largest population of West African chimpanzees after Guinea. The census revealed that 7000 chimpanzees make Liberia their home and only 30% of them live within the protected forest areas.
The inventory gives weight to preserving and increasing protected areas and consideration for future projects by calling attention to this large group of chimps. The researchers feel they have done a great service to the chimpanzees and other mammals that are struggling to survive in this war torn country.
Because of you we have a good start and can finish the funding of this educational reforestation project. This particular project has the potential to uplift a country, its people and environment to its previous levels and higher. Who knows, with that kind of change the chimp populations could increase even more, so come on everyone…
I was hoping my partner, Neabei Toah who helped me develop this worthy project, would be able to send us a few paragraphs about what’s happening in his country, Liberia, West Afrika. But alas, he has many challenges that make it impossible for him to communicate with me on a regular basis and he has no camera to send us images. The camera and computer are part of the budget for this project and when enough funding is received for those items Neabei will be able to help us better.
Neabei and his family were farmers before the tragic 25 years civil war. They still have the land but all the structures were long ago destroyed as an effect of the war. But with recent advances by the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Florence Chenoweth, they may have the opportunity to return to their farm. They were forced to move to the capital city of Monrovia during the war for lack of a place to live.
Between ¼ and ½ million Liberians died during the war and ALL wild animals and livestock were eaten. The forest we will restore at the University for this project was cut down for firewood, even the precious woods.
Dr. Chenoweth, a world respected human rights expert and Africa Prize winner, is looking to recover farming as a national productive activity now that the war is over. She has the HUGE task of bringing the previous subsistence farm sector (all of Liberia) into the 21st Century. If anyone can do it she can. After the first democratic election 8 years ago the farming comeback is super slow.
When the Ministry of Agriculture first started out they didn’t even have a germ plasm or seed to plant in the Earth and almost no animals lived because after 25 years of war the people ate everything that moved. They re-opened their agricultural research station and it is now almost self-sufficient in seed production.
Strangely the tropical forests in Liberia have created a problem for the agricultural sector because of the diseases and pests in them. Because there haven’t been any agricultural practices during the war years the pests have spread to nearby farms and some invaded deep into the soils.
The population of Liberia is 3.5 million people and women are the traditional farmers. Here’s the problem though…since virtually everyone lived in refugee camps for 20 – 25 years the older women, the farmers, have passed on without passing on their farming knowledge to the younger women. Dr. Chenoweth expresses the vital need for training programs in farming and planting for today’s women.
Our project, “Educational Reforestation in War Torn Liberia” has an all woman planting crew. ALL of funding needed to implement the project will be used to address forestry education, sustainability and climate change adaptation, to replace the small forest at the University biology station that was destroyed during the war and to inspire hope in a people downtrodden and sick from a very long war. Come on everybody...
Let’s Get Planting, Liberia!
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