Liberia’s Head of Sustainable Forestry
In 2017, Darlington Tuagben (TBA Field Course, Amani 2009) was appointed head of Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority, giving him responsibility for the conservation and sustainable development of his country’s forest resources. It was a proud moment for the conservation biologist who wanted to help his country to get back on its feet following the dark years of civl war.
Darlington, who did his bachelor’s degree in natural resource management at the Kwame Nkrumah’ University of Science and Technology in Ghana, says that the TBA has played a key role in his career success.
“My professional career started with a quest to contribute to Liberia’s post-war reconstruction of its devastated forests. After my BSc, I returned home and took up a position as Park Manager of a proposed protected area, the Lake Piso reserve. The challenges of this role motivated my application to the TBA to acquire practical field experience. The TBA course marked a new stage of my professional career, allowing me to confidently lead several research activities which in turn led to the Lake Piso reserve becoming a fully protected area.
Follow-up support gave Darlington the platform to build his career in conservation, which is not just rooted in forestry. “The TBA gave me the opportunity to undertake a masters degree in Conservation Biology at Cape Town. In doing so, I researched the effect of oil spills on Liberia’s coastal and marine resources and my results are now an important national reference document.” he says.
Darlington served as a Natural Resources Management Specialist within the Economic Growth Office of USAID Liberia before moving to the Forestry Development Authority, with responsibility for sustainable development of forests and related natural resources.
Today, as Managing Director of that Authority, he leads of a team of deputies and technical managers, coordinating the integration of forestry conservation (biodiversity conservation), commercial forestry (revenue generation from forest resources) and community forestry (community participation and decision making in forest resource management).
It’s an integrated approach designed to ensure long-term benefit for all Liberians, and the global community. Alongside this key managerial role, Darlington is also the principal representative of the President of Liberia at all forestry related events, both national and international.
Darlington is passionate about the sustainable management of Liberia’s natural resources; ever since his role in the efforts to protect the Lake Piso reserve, he has worked to create more protected areas in Liberia as well as ensuring that the existing ones receive the level of support required for proper management.
He is now well placed to leverage support towards forest conservation in Liberia. Already, close to 30% of the country’s forests have been brought under a more effective form of conservation management as spelled out in the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006. In his new job, he also hopes to develop a more science/research based Forestry Development Authority through building a strong scientific research department.
Darlington has always stayed in touch with the TBA, sending news of his career development, and thanks to those who supported his path to having real impact in conservation in his country. On his latest appointment, he wrote:
“Since my interaction with the TBA, my life has never been the same as my capacity has been built to serve my country and the globe. A TBA field course is a stepping stone to greater heights in the world of sustainable natural resource management.
“I thank the TBA for its support over the years, and am very grateful to them for building the capacity of young professionals to positively impact the globe”