Several local and international conservation organizations and partners have called on Mines and Energy Minister, Gersler E. Murray to abolish all plans to construct a conveyor system for transporting iron ore from the mines through the Marshall Wetlands by Cavalla Resources or any other private firm.
The grouop in their petition said they have received information that a feasibility assessment for the transportation of iron ore is being undertaken on the behalf of Cavalla Resources, disclosing that the options being evaluated include transporting the ore by road to Buchanan port, constructing a railway to Buchanan port or building a conveyor through the wetlands amog others.
According to them, it is understood that previous developers flagged Marshall as a no-go-area and considered a long conveyor or dedicated haul road to Buchanan port as the only viable options.
“As conservation organizations in Liberia and strategic partners to the Government of Liberia, we call on your office to rescind all decisions or deny any/all applications to construct the conveyor system in the Marshall Wetlands by Cavalla Resources or any other private firm as this action endangers the already immensely threatened Marshall Wetlands, its rich biodiversity, and the unique ecosystem services it provides,” the group said.
The group noted that it is of international importance given that the Marshall Wetlands predominately contains mangroves with mature trees reaching up to 30m, indicating that the Marshall Wetlands is also one of the 14 Proposed Protected Areas (PPA) identified by the GoL in 2008 as part of Liberia’s Protected Area Network.
The conservation organizations further pointed out that the action undermines the Government’s commitment to the Ramsar Convention, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, multilateral agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, as well as the numerous investments by international partners in protecting and maintaining this biodiversity hotspot.
The group stresses that the wetlands are an important habitat for threatened species such as the African dwarf crocodile, live Ridley turtle, leatherback turtle, green turtle, West African slender-snouted crocodile, and resident and migratory birds with a number of species listed by the Convention on Migratory Species recorded in the area, such as the Glossy Ibis, Lesser Kestrel, and Common Pratincole.
They added, “While we recognize the need to promote economic prosperity from the extractive sector, such as mining, all intents, and purposes of the conveyor system across the Marshall Wetlands are unquestionably dangerous, environmentally unfriendly, and will have a significant negative impact on this very important wetland, which has received huge investments from development partners.”
However, those institutions signing the communication include Conservation International Liberia, Fauna & Flora International Liberia, Libassa Ecolodge, Liberia Chimpanzee Rescue & Protection, Liberia National Tourism Association, Liberian Youth for Climate Action.
Others are the Environmental Justice Foundation, Partners in Development, Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia, Sustainable Development Institute, Universal Outreach Foundation, and Wild Chimpanzee Foundation.
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