Adam Welti

Adam Welti (Skills and Agricultural Development Services - SADS): Adam is from Plainview, Minnesota. He did his undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota where he focused on environment and natural resource science. Adam then worked as an English language assistant at a high school in Saint Dizzier, France. His interest in North and West Africa grew after he spent two years in Morocco as a Peace Corps Volunteer working in the area of natural resource management and community development. At the time of his fellowship he was studying for a Masters degree in international environment and resource policy at The Fletcher School at Tufts University.



Environmental Awareness

07 Jul

Communities in Lofa County have a symbiotic relationship with the forest and forest resources.  From bush meat for a source of protein, to medicinal remedies for ailments families depend on the forests for their livelihoods.  In conducting an environmental awareness assessment in partnership with two SADS staff in Lofa County, we discovered that most people have a vague understanding of the importance of conservation of the forest, but many are unaware of the challenges posed by deforestation, overhunting and timber harvesting.

As families reestablish their fields and rebuild their homes, there is, as of yet, little ability to raise livestock.  Therefore, most families rely on hunting of various animals in the forest as a source of protein.  While almost all people interviewed recognized the animals as a valuable food source, few acknowledged the decrease in presence of many species.

The forests hold a valuable traditional use as a source of medicines to cure a wide variety of ailments.  In the same vain, the male and female secret societies that permeate the rural culture depend on the forest for their meeting place.  These meeting places are hidden amongst towering trees and winding vines.

Nearly all of those interviewed, whether children or elders, iterated the importance the forest provides as a source of timber, both for building homes and for selling to market.  Related to logging, some families have begun to harvest non-timber forest products, but for the most part, this harvesting has been conducted in unsustainable means, involving cutting down of the entire tree instead of selectively harvesting to allow the tree to produce more fruit over the coming months.

Another key component of our assessment was to determine the awareness of the communities to the proposed protected area as delineated by the Forest Development Authority of the Liberian government.  Some were aware of the proposed boundaries while a few knew that they were not to harvest or hunt within these boundaries.  Many women and young people were completely unaware of the proposed boundaries all together.

It was apparent from our assessment that basic environmental and conservation concepts are needed in Lofa County, especially near the proposed protected area.

In our meetings, I did find one individual, Mulbah G. Mulbah, who was well aware of the challenges faced by global warming, declining animal species and the need for education related to conservation and the environment.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYU7EWMUM_E

SADS hopes that with a concentration on education and skills training, more people in Lofa County will become aware of the need to conserve forest resources.  Simultaneously, SADS aims to provide people with new skills so that they can begin to make a living without having to rely exclusively on forest resources.

Posted By Adam Welti

Posted Jul 7th, 2009

249 Comments

  • Alissa

    July 7, 2009

     

    Great blog! I just have a few question. You talked about the need for families to start raising livestock instead of hunting. Would they be raising the same types of animals that already populate the area? If not, have you considered the effects of bringing in new species? Also, do the families have the economic resources to feed and care for livestock?

    • Adam Welti

      July 8, 2009

       

      The small animal husbandry project was a previous program of SADS. Unfortunately there were a few complications in the project (namely problems with a lack of awareness about the project which resulted in a town chief taking all the animals for himself and another instance where the community did not support the free range of the animals in the town). That project included pigs, goats and chickens. Families have raised these species in the past but most are unable to purchase young to start a small livestock program due to economic constraints. Cost of food for the animals has not been the limiting factor as much as has been the lack of commitment of families to use funds generated by these projects to reinvest in the project to help it expand. Instead, families have been using the funds for other pressing needs and encounter problems when they need funds to fix or purchase new materials for their project. Knowledge about sustainable project management and financial responsibility is needed.

  • Marina

    July 7, 2009

     

    I really enjoyed this blog and the video. It gave me a much better idea of the works SADS is doing and the perceptions of the communities involved. I can’t wait to read more about the outcomes of the education and skills trainings.

  • Zonta Corona

    July 14, 2009

     

    Thanks for sharing the video and your thoughts on raising environmental awareness in this region. My own research is focused on raising awareness through organizational efforts, so it’s a nice reminder to see the work that is going on in other areas of the spectrum.

    I think people often assume that individuals living communities that rely more directly on the natural environment (such as the forests and rivers) are going to automatically have a higher level of environmental awareness, but your work clearly shows that raising environmental awareness in these communities is incredibly important.

    Keep up the good work!!!

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