Vice President Joseph Boakai has reiterated that Government remains committed to the Forestry Management Law which allows communities hosting forests in Liberia to benefit from the national asset.
In his keynote address at the induction of officers-elect of the Liberia Timber Association (LTA) at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia, VP Boakai said
“Government remains keen on the reform process which is, to some degree, ongoing as evidenced by some modest improvements in our forest governance domain.”
He added, “This reform is expected to produce a plethora of benefits. We do intend to streamline our Community Forest Management Agreements so as to ensure that they are in full sync with the Community Rights Law of 2009.”
Making reference to an instance that makes it compelling for Government to commit itself to the forest governance, VP Boakai said while the forest sector may have been contributing immensely to the economy of the country, its management landscape has been saddled with a host of conflict situations.
He recalled that “We have witnessed a litany of situations in which conflicts are fueled in our communities as a result of perception that the sector is not providing benefits as it should to the communities in which they operate; noteworthy is the unfortunate situation in which this Government was constrained to take steps to investigate the issuance and operations of Private Use Permits.”
He said government’s portion is to institute measures that will ensure that Land Rental and Administration fees are disbursed appropriately to duly satisfy community and county entitlements.
In this regard, the Vice President said “We want to assure our communities, particularly areas where timber activities take place, that the Government is doing everything to ensure that their rights and interest are fully protected.”
He therefore called on the timber association to be true partners and positive contributors to Government efforts, noting that it will help in constructing a system that will be as equitable and profitable to all concerned, as can be.
He acknowledged that Liberia is a signatory to many international instruments including the United Nations Framework Convention to Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, which place upon government’s shoulders obligation to focus on the sustainable management of the forest assets.
He then called on the international partners to step up efforts at emboldening the capacities of citizens to be comfortably on board with forest protection measures.
At the same time, VP Boakai recalled that the best way to strengthen the conservation of natural habitat is to bolster the preservation potentials of those who inhabit it, which according to him involves assurance to community dwellers about the guarantee of their livelihood when the forest is conserved.
Speaking to the newly elected leadership, VP Boakai described their responsibility as “onerous,” reminding leaders that it is a challenge they cannot afford to shirk but will find it impossible to dodge or avoid.
He expressed optimism in the capabilities of the leaders and urged them that they will have to stare the task squarely and confront it, stressing that such action lies in their cooperation with the communities and the government.
He also urged them to be impactful in their leadership and that, as times go by, government and Liberians will have reason to celebrate their successes in the vital sector they operate.
Those elected and installed into office include Rudolph J. Merab, President; John M. Baxter, 1st Vice President; John S. Deah, 2nd Vice President; and Augustine B.M. Johnson, Secretary.
Others are Eliza D.J. Kronyahn, Treasurer; and Macdonald Wento, Chaplain.
In his acceptance speech, the president, Rudolph J. Merab underscored that for every party in the forest sector to be satisfied, government must look into the high tax levied on loggers.
He said roads are lacking in the country and logging companies are compelled to repair bridges and construct feeder roads; yet government levies high tax on loggers thus causing them to be losers.