The Nimba landscape is centred on the Arcelor Mittal mining concession, which is located in the northern point of Nimba county, bordering Guinea and Ivory Coast. The Nimba mountain range dominates the landscape and is a protected area due to its unique mountain ecology. In and around the concession there is dense forest, including a Nature Reserve and several community forests.
Within the concession area, the main land use is shifting agriculture, particularly for rice and other subsistence crops. The land on the southern part of the landscape and around Saniquelle features more intensely produced lowland rice and smallholder rubber farms. The primary employer in the area is the Arcelor Mittal mine, but only a small proportion of the population are formally employed, while the rest live off trading, subsistence farming, hunting and other subsistence activities. Dependence upon the land and forest for food and livelihoods is very high.
This year will see the initiation of investigating and developing the process to establish a strategy for participatory land use planning (PLUP) in northern Nimba, as well as testing PLUP at the community level to see how it really works on the ground. These activities will be scaled up, to develop a long-term land use plan for the area, identifying areas for intensified land use and areas for conservation. The overall vision of the program as agreed by the Nimba Biodiversity Stakeholders Forum is the establishment of a Nimba Mountains Planning Area, which should allow multiple land uses to co-exist in appropriate designated zones and promote development based on the maintenance of a bio-diverse, healthy environment.
The program will support two production, protection and inclusion agreements around investments in intensive cash crops. In addition, the program will contribute to the on-going efforts of AML in a co-funding manner to increase the number of conservation agreements and other activities.
As one of the main threats to Nimba’s forests is shifting cultivation due to an increasing population, enhancing agricultural productivity on existing agricultural land and improving agricultural practices is Imperative. These will ensure food security through an initial focus on food crops, but will also promote stabilization of farming through greater use of tree crops in agroforestry systems. Long-term improvements in livelihoods will be developed including tree crop and livestock production, improved marketing and alternative enterprises.
An annual ‘County Forest Forum’ has been established in order to bring together all the actors in the landscape in order to discuss key challenges and issues, such as unregulated timber harvesting and charcoal mining. The forum defines follow up actions, such as training community members on regulation, and working with the FDA for enforcement.
To support the regulatory and enforcement capacity, the program will support additional FDA staff to be seconded to the landscape to ensure FDA engagement in all programme activities can feed lessons learned in Nimba to the other 2 Liberian landscapes in which IDH has projects. Also, a small amount of resources will be used to co-fund, with AML, activities that are identified as priorities by the County Forest Forum.
Agriculture and livelihoods projects, where possible as part of a CA, and with input from the analysis of the FFS consultant will continue to train farmers in techniques such as improved lowland farming, vegetable production and livestock rearing in order to increase production and reduce shifting agriculture. Additionally, research in soil management and development of an effective agricultural extension service aimed at benefiting communities at the household level will also be supported. The aim of this is to gain better insight into the feasibility and conditions necessary for conservation agriculture.
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