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ArcelorMittal launches Biodiversity Conservation Programme report for 2015

ArcelorMittal Liberia today announces the publication of the 2015 annual report of its Biodiversity Conservation Programme (BCP). 

The report highlights another year of significant progress for the programme, which was set up by ArcelorMittal in August 2011 to compensate for the impact the mining industry has had on Liberia’s biological environment. 

The fourth year of the programme has, once again, seen a number of key milestones reached in collaboration with ArcelorMittal’s partners.   

Following the successful development of the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR) management plan in 2014, important strides have been made in protecting this globally important forest, thanks to the successful collaboration between partner Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and the ENNR Co-Management Committee. 

Another significant milestone includes the signature of the country’s first ever conservation agreements by ArcelorMittal partner Conservation International with six communities in northern Nimba. 

Reflecting on the year, John Howell, environmental advisor to ArcelorMittal Liberia, said: “ArcelorMittal’s Biodiversity Conservation Programme (BCP) would not be possible without the strong partnerships and collaborations that have been developed throughout its four and a half years of existence to date. The success of the programme is testament to the hard work of our implementing partners, the continuous support and guidance from stakeholders and collaborators, and their willingness to trust and work with ArcelorMittal Liberia.”

The programme has also celebrated a series of successes in demonstrating the presence of endangered species in the region. West African Lepidoptera expert Szabolcs Sáfián and telemetry specialist Mátyás Prommer achieved a world first by successfully radio-tracking the Giant African Swallowtail (Papilio antimachus), classified as data deficient on the IUCN redlist, it is one of Nimba’s most charismatic species and Africa’s largest butterfly. In addition to this, the all-Liberian Nimba Otter Shrew field team continued the first ever radio-tracking of this endangered species, successfully tracking four individuals and confirming its presence in the Gba and Blei Community Forests.

Other achievements during the year include: 

  • Continuation of support for the Gba, Zor and Blei community forest management bodies (CFMB), under the existing memoranda of understanding.
  • Expansion of pilot agriculture and livelihood projects to an additional three communities in West Nimba by Agricultural Relief Services, Inc (ARS), including training in conservation agriculture, sustainable farming methods, integrated pest management, tree crops and microfinance.
  • Rural Integrated Center for Community Empowerment (RICCE) increased the number of communities it is working with up to seven. They have continued to train farmers in conservation agriculture and microfinance projects, with more emphasis on swamp rice farming and dry season vegetables.
  • Follow-up field visit by Dr. Adam Manvell (rural livelihoods specialist) and Professor John Quinton (expert soil scientist and lecturer at University of Lancaster) to complete the soil-social review and develop the BCP’s agricultural strategy.
  • Investigation into animal source foods in northern Nimba and alternatives to bushmeat by a specialist consultant.
  • Forest cover change assessment by Earthtime.
  • Capacity building of NGO partners in logical framework assessment, design of on-farm trials and baseline surveys.
  • Continued collaboration with People, Rules and Organizations Supporting the Protection of Ecosystem Resources (PROSPER), a development programme funded by USAID, to support general CFMB activities and community forest guard (CFG) patrols.
  • Funding for a Liberian undergraduate to present research on chimpanzees at the 27th International Congress for Conservation Biology in France.
  • Continued support for a community tree nursery project including facilitation of nursery management training and implementation of a pilot community tree planting project.
  • Support to government to identify potential sites and apply for World Heritage Site status of the area designated as the ENNR.

About the BCP 
ArcelorMittal Liberia’s Biodiversity Conservation Programme is intended to compensate for the long term environmental impacts caused by its mining of direct shipping ore (DSO) over the period of 2011 to 2015. It aims to provide an alternative to the changed environment that cannot be mitigated through avoidance, minimisation or rectification. The programme is focused on the terrestrial biological environment (soils, plants and animals) but addresses them through measures that are technical or socio-economic according to the needs perceived by the stakeholders involved.

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