Mainstreaming the Value of Ecosystems and Biodiversity
into coastal and Marine Management Policies
Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, is endowed with rich marine and coastal resources which sustain the livelihoods of coastal communities. Nearly 58% of Liberia‘s population lives in coastal regions, which include mangrove forests that extend up to 25 miles inland. In a country where food security is a concern for over half of the population, the fishery sector provides about 65% of the population’s protein needs.
Mangroves are among the most productive and valuable ecosystems on earth, as well as the most undervalued. Mangroves in Liberia suffer from continual degradation due to a variety of factors, including urbanization, agricultural expansion, fuel wood harvesting, mining, and limited institutional presence.
The TEEB Liberia study aims to reduce the pressures and threats on coastal mangroves by mainstreaming the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services into coastal and marine planning policies. The project will provide evidence of the benefits of community-based coastal and marine management, the introduction of alternative livelihood options, and the establishment of marine protected areas.
TEEB Liberia compares alternative scenarios for coastal mangrove management in Liberia and the resulting differences in the provisioning of ecosystem services and biodiversity impacts. The study consists of five study sites:
1. Lake Piso Multiple Nature Reserve (Ramsar site).
2. Marshall Wetland (Ramsar site).
3. Montserrado Wetland (Ramsar site).
4. Baculi, Grand Bassa County – sea turtle nesting site.
5. Bafo Bay, Sinoe County – fishing ground and sea turtle nesting site.
The study identifies the constituencies affected by trade-offs in ecosystem service provisioning, with a focus on vulnerable coastal population groups.
Ecosystem services focus
The degradation of mangroves has both direct and indirect impacts on the provisioning of ecosystem services and biodiversity, which in turn affects the livelihoods of Liberian communities. During a scoping workshop, participants identified services that may be valued as part of TEEB Liberia, including the provision of food, regulation of extreme events, cultural values and carbon sequestration and storage.
Provision of food: Mangroves provide nursery grounds for juvenile fish, which is important for fish stocks in both marine and freshwater ecosystems.
Regulation of extreme events: Mangroves serve as shields from storms and floods, which are increasing in frequency and intensity because of climate change. Coastal areas in Liberia are highly vulnerable to climate-induced weather events.
Cultural values: The study will document the cultural value of these ecosystem services, particularly for Lake Piso.
Special features of TEEB Liberia
- Policy goals regarding climate change, the extraction of natural resources (mining and agriculture concessions), poverty alleviation and food security will be included in the analysis and final policy recommendations.
- Local community engagement is critical for project sustainability and will be included in the analysis.
- The Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Finance is involved in the study, as it includes a proposal for the adoption of a levy on commercial fisheries.
“Natural capital –our ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources– underpins economies, societies and individual well-being. The values of its myriad benefits are, however, often overlooked or poorly understood. They are rarely taken fully into account through economic signals in markets, or in day-to-day decisions by business and citizens, nor indeed reflected adequately in the accounts of society. The steady loss of forests, soils, wetlands and coral reefs is closely tied to this economic invisibility. So, too, are the losses of species and of productive assets like fisheries, driven partly by ignoring values beyond the immediate and private” President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the Summit for Sustainability in Africa, Botswana, 2012.
National focal point and Host Institution
Other engaged actors
The Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry Development Authority, Bureau of National Fisheries, Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Bureau of Maritime Affairs, Liberia Institute of Statistics & Geo-Information Services, Ministry of Gender, local communities and Conservation International.
- The TEEB Guidance Manual for country studies provides both technical and operational guidance on how countries may conduct a TEEB Country Study. It outlines the steps that may be taken to initiate and implement a country study, communicate its findings, and implement the recommendations of the study.
- TEEB study to demonstrate the value of mangroves for Liberia – Nearly 58% of the population of Liberia lives within 40 miles of the coast, dotted with mangroves, forests and reeds that extend up to 25 miles inland. Local communities in particular depend on mangroves for fish, wood for fuel and as a buffer against coastal flooding
TEEB focal point
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TEEB for Agriculture & Food Concept Note
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Natural Capital Accounting and Water Quality: Commitments, Benefits, Needs and Progress
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