Today, in partnership with ArcelorMittal Liberia (AML)
, Conservation International (CI) is kicking off the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR) Planning Workshop with local communities, NGOs and government stakeholders in Liberia to consider a planning process for East Nimba and the surrounding communities. The goal of the workshop is to reach consensus on an interim management strategy for the Reserve and to explore how best to sustainably manage the landscape in the immediate vicinity, which is shared by mining operations and local communities. Discussions will focus on conservation agreements, improved agricultural livelihoods and additional studies of ecological and socioeconomic issues needed to develop a land use management strategy.
The exceptional biodiversity and healthy ecosystems of the Nimba Mountain Range — shared by Liberia
and neighboring Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea — contribute greatly to the well-being of local communities,
while the immense mineral wealth has attracted global investments from major mining companies
such as AML. As part of a multifaceted agreement launched in 2012, CI and AML are working with local stakeholders
in Northern Nimba County to develop a coordinated landscape plan intended to harmonize conservation, integrated agriculture and development activities. CI hopes that this partnership can serve as a model for leveraging Liberia’s natural resources for sustainable economic development and human well-being.
Conversations with stakeholders regarding ways to link conservation and human development include
efforts to implement a biodiversity offset for AML’s project. Biodiversity offsets are conservation
actions intended to compensate for the residual, unavoidable harm to biodiversity caused by major
development projects. This approach has been recognized globally as an effective tool that can contribute to conservation and deliver livelihood benefits for local communities. In addition to Liberia, CI is working to
develop offsets with large development projects in Guyana, Colombia and Papua New Guinea.
CI’s work in Liberia also includes efforts to establish conservation agreements
. Conservation agreements
are designed to provide incentives (such as livelihood investments) to local communities in return for
their commitment to support conservation and sustainable resource management. These agreements
are tailored to local needs and priorities as well as ecological management requirements and specific
livelihood potential. CI believes that this tool, piloted in Nimba with AML
, may be a key element of
sustainable development in the country and plans to champion its success within Liberia’s national
This partnership with AML, and continuous engagement with the government and local communities,
reflects CI’s decades-long approach to partnership with the extractives sector, born from the belief that
if responsibly implemented, such projects can bring positive results for both people and nature.Jessica Donovan-Allen is CI-Liberia's Country Director. Ashley Armstrong is an intern in CELB's Responsible Mining & Energy Program. Marielle Canter Weikel is Acting Senior Director of CELB's Responsible Mining & Energy Program.