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Experts Advance Plans for a Biodiversity Corridor in the Tai-Sapo Region of Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia
01/ 10/ 2009

Experts Advance Plans for a Biodiversity Corridor in the Tai-Sapo Region of Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia
A plan to develop a biodiversity corridor across the border between Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia will be part of key discussions to be held in Abidjan next week in cooperation with organizations including the United Nations and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation.

Abidjan, 1 October 2009 - A plan to develop a biodiversity corridor across the border between Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia will be part of key discussions to be held in Abidjan this week in cooperation with organizations including the United Nations and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation.

The meeting, taking place between 5-6 October will discuss environmental conservation goals that simultaneously enhance stability, human security, sustainable development and long-term economic benefits in a region that has seen a great deal of conflict in the past two decades.

Hosted by the Ivorian Minister of Environment, Water and Forests, the meeting is part of a transboundary initiative that will be launched by the UN-led Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and its partners.


Spanning across the border between Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia are remnant fragments of one of the most important ecosystems within the Upper Guinean Forest region. These lowland forests form the largest block of a relatively intact tropical rainforest in West Africa.

They are also home to more than a quarter of Africa's mammals, including 12 species of primates, important chimpanzee populations, and endemic species such as pygmy hippos and forest elephants. Today, these valuable forests offer a unique opportunity of transformation for biodiversity conservation and peace-building.

Relying on existing institutions and networks, such as the OIPR (Ivorian Office of Parks and Reserves) and SODEFOR (Organization for the Development of Forests) in Côte d'Ivoire and the FDA (Forestry Development Authority) of Liberia, the meeting aims to initiate a dialogue for a long-term process, which among other objectives will advance the idea and the effective realization of a biodiversity corridor between two large blocks of forest in the Upper Guinean Forest Region: the Sapo National Park in Liberia and the Taï National Park in Côte d'Ivoire.

The meeting will bring together representatives of various stakeholder groups from both countries, including senior government officials, forestry and environment ministries, major international donors, development agencies, private sector and research institutions, indigenous populations, and local, national and international non-governmental organizations.

The initiative is financed and supported by the European Union through GRASP, the French Fund for World Environment (FFEM) through the French Development Agency (AFD), STEWARD (Thriving & Sustainable Environments for West African Regional Development) through the United States Forestry Service, and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF).

The meeting will be held from on the 5th and 6th of October 2009 at the Hotel Ivotel in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.

Note to Editors:

GRASP is a joint initiative led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and UNESCO. www.unep.org/grasp


For additional information, please contact:
Dr. Ilka Herbinger, WCF Director-Africa, c/o Swiss Centre for Scientific Research in Côte d'Ivoire (CSRS), 01 BP 1303, Abidjan 01, Cote d'Ivoire, Tel: (+225) 23 51 99 33 ; cel: (225) 03 48 89 02 email / E-mail: herbinger@aviso.ci, herbinger@wildchimps.org, web: http://www.wildchimps.org
Or
Dr. Johannes Refisch GRASP Acting Coordinator, United Nations Environment Program, PO Box 30552, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya, Tel: (+254) 20 762 4517, Fax: (254) 20 762 4249, email / E-mail: Johannes. Refisch@unep.org, web: http://www.unep.org/grasp/

Further Resources
UNEP: Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP)
UNEP: Biodiversity