Located in the northeast of Liberia’s border with Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, the Nimba landscape is home to the East Nimba Nature Reserve (11,553 hectares) and three community forests. The forest and biodiversity of this landscape are threatened by shifting cultivation practices and hunting, which have become unsustainable. The recent opening of a second mining site by Arcelor Mittal Liberia (AML) is also impacting the forest. As part of its voluntary mining impact offset program, AML’s Biodiversity Conservation Program (BCP) aims to support the protection of the reserve, and improve community forest management for conservation. IDH co-funded the program and established a learning link between the BCP and IDH’s Community Oil Palm program in the Southeast and West landscape in Liberia.
The main impact of this project was the learning link between the Nimba landscape and the Southeast and West landscapes in Liberia. Important lessons on the design of food security interventions and conservation agreements were taken on board in the program design in these two other landscapes. In addition, the feasibility study of the green growth land-use planning in Nimba may be relevant for follow-up work by other NGOs and the recently established Liberia Conservation Fund. IDH started phasing out its support in the Nimba region and partnership after July 2017, because it has limited added value in this context. The original plan of linking the conservation agreements with communities to commercial or impact investment was not possible.
Changes in Business PracticesPrivate Investment Ratio Target 2020 1Target 2017 (not set) 0Result 2017 1In the first half of 2017, IDH worked with Arcelor Mittal Liberia to scale up the BCP to provide benefits, mainly in the form of investment in agricultural production, to more communities, learn from the conservation agreement approach that was already applied as part of this program, and explore opportunities for green growth land-use planning, also considering the post-mining economy. Through this work, we found that the mining industry has no strong incentive or business case to invest in a landscape approach, besides voluntary offsets.
Changes in Sector Governance# communities owning lanmduse plans target 2020 6Target 2017 (not set) 0Result 2017 10IDH, with the help of a technical expert, assessed the feasibility of participatory land-use planning in the region. This led to a position paper that outlines how a GGP for the Northern Nimba Planning Area might be developed, and provides recommendations on economic development opportunities that start building a post-mining economy. The report was presented to AML and the Liberian Land Authority. However, towards the end of 2017, with the Liberian presidential election and changes in management at AML, no commitments were made. This will need to be revisited in 2018.
Field Level Impact# of producers/workers reached Target 2020 (not set) 0Target 2017 (not set) 0Result 2017 1,300We supported the BCP to run agriculture and livelihood diversification projects in 13 communities, including training of over 500 farmers in improved lowland farming methods and dry season vegetable crop production. Four microfinance groups continued working, and an additional nine groups have been established and trained. Four new conservation agreements were made with communities between July 2016 and July 2017, and six agreements were renewed. These agreements include the provision of jobs for over 150 (mostly) ex-hunters, and the delivery of other benefits to around 150 farmers in 10 communities. They can play an important role in preventing encroachment and degradation in the East Nimba Nature Reserve. However, in the period July 2016 – July 2017, 50 violations of these agreements, including logging and hunting, took place.
There seems to be no convincing business case yet for the mining industry to invest in a landscape approach, besides voluntary offsets.
Research and communication on the viability and benefits of a landscape approach, such as the BCP, can help spur innovation in this field. Lessons from farmer schools were used as input for the design of the income diversification and food security work stream in the Southeast of Liberia. The capacity building on conservation around East Nimba Nature Reserve has been strong. But ongoing illegal hunting and logging pose a challenge for its long-term conservation. This is an important lesson and insight for the West and Southeast landscapes of the country.