TEEB study to demonstrate the value of mangroves for Liberia

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Geneva, 04 August 2014

Local communities in particular depend on mangroves for fish, wood for fuel and as a buffer against coastal flooding.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – TEEB study for Liberia should focus on revealing the economic and cultural benefits gained from conservation or restoration of wetlands in five study sites along the coast of Liberia. This was the recommendation of 18 participants attending the TEEB Scoping Workshop for Liberia held in the country’s capital Monrovia from 10 to 11 June 2014, to identify policy questions that the TEEB country study would inform.

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.

Unfortunately mangroves suffer from continual degradation mainly caused by urbanization and agricultural expansion, fuel wood harvesting, mining, as well as limited institutional presence and capacity to ensure their protection.

“Very little of the national budget is allocated to conservation efforts in Liberia and this is because policy makers know very little about conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. We therefore expect that a scientific based assessment exercise by TEEB will support our advocacy efforts on the need to conserve mangroves said J.S.Datuama Cammue, Official of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

When the TEEB report series were presented at the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, numerous countries expressed interest or initiated TEEB studies in order to encourage policy-making that recognizes the values of ecosystem services and biodiversity. Liberia is among five countries that are currently undertaking TEEB country studies under the umbrella project “Reflecting the Value of Ecosystems and Biodiversity in Policy-making” administered by the TEEB Office and financed by the European Commission until 2015. Bhutan, Ecuador, the Philippines and Tanzania are the other four countries.

Liberia’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan states that mangroves provide both subsistence and economic benefits to the population. One of the foci of the TEEB study will be the assessment using a ‘production function’ approach of the benefits to local communities of protecting the spawning grounds for fisheries. The study will also capture cultural ecosystem services as mangroves are an important part of Liberian cultural heritage.

Workshop participants identified a number of policy measures that need further analysis, primarily coastal and marine zoning policies, with an emphasis on mangrove ecosystems. Other policies to be considered relate to climate change, the extraction of natural resources (mining and agriculture concessions), poverty alleviation and food security.

The workshop participants view local community engagement as critical for long term conservation efforts and therefore suggested that the study findings should be included in community empowerment action plans.

The TEEB study in Liberia will be coordinated by the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia, which will work in conjunction with other stakeholders such as the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and a national project committee.

About a TEEB Country study

A TEEB country study is an in-depth examination that identifies the ecosystem services that are vital to meeting the country’s policy priorities, and makes recommendations on how these services can be integrated into policies. Depending on the country context, these recommendations can include policies for poverty alleviation, subsidy reform, land use management, protected area management, securing livelihoods, investment in natural infrastructure restoration and national accounting to include natural capital.

TEEB studies can help countries answer these questions:

  1. What is the natural capital in my country and what is driving change?
  1. Do we measure and understand our natural capital?
  2. To what extent are the values of nature integrated into decision-making?
  3. What are the issues that need policy attention?
  4. What are the policy tools and decision options that offer solutions?

 The main elements of a TEEB country study in six steps are:

  • STEP 1: Define the objectives of the country study by specifying and agreeing on the key policy issues with stakeholders
  • STEP 2: Identify the most relevant ecosystem services
  • STEP 3: Define information needs and select appropriate methods
  • STEP 4 Assess and value ecosystem services
  • STEP 5:Identify and outline the pros and cons of policy options, including the distributional impacts
  • STEP 6: Review, refine and report

 For more information about the TEEB study in Liberia contact tomas.declercq(at)unep.org

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