The management of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in collaboration with the Community Forestry Working Group (CFWG) launched the 2nd Annual Outreach Campaign on Community Forestry in Monrovia over the weekend.
The campaign with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through its implementing partner, the Liberia People, Rules and Organizations Supporting the Protection of Ecosystem Resources (PROSPER) project, was launched under the theme, “Make Community Forestry Rights Real.”
Earlier during the launch, FDA managing director, Harrison Sam Karnwea, Sr., said, the initiative is being undertaken by the government through the FDA in collaboration with CFWG and supported by the USAID funded PROSPER.
The campaign, he said, is part of the government’s policy to give back to its citizens.
According to Mr. Karnwea, it is aimed at empowering forest dependent communities to do more than participate in decision-making, but to actively engage in the sustainable management of forest resources in a manner that would allow them to accrue direct benefits for present and future generations.
He said through the launch of the campaign, forest dependent communities, policy makers and other stakeholders would be made aware of the provisions of the CRL and regulations that grant ownership to communities and empowers them to get directly involved in forest management.
“The implementation of this campaign includes the second launch and a community-based rollout that would see teams visiting and carrying out sensitization and education in several forest communities on the CRL and regulations.”
According the FDA MD, the campaign has already begun paying off following the subsequent launch of the first National Outreach Campaign and Community Rollout.
“This,” he said, “is evidenced by the number of applications arriving at the FDA offices requesting Authorized Forest Community Status.”
Mr. Karnwea said that while it is evidently clear that much progress has been made, there is much more work to be done to ensure that communities have adequate knowledge and can access and effectively use the law to their benefit.
For his part, USAID Mission Director to Liberia, John Mark Winfield, said USAID is proud of its support to the campaign through PROSPER.
According to him, the U.S. Government began supporting the Liberian forestry sector in 2004 to reform the legal and regulatory framework and develop the chain of custody system.
“Since 2007, USAID has focused support on community forestry management through several projects, the most recent being the USAID PROSPER project.”
In addition, Mr. Winfield disclosed among that USAID is providing capacity building support to the FDA through the U.S. Governance and Economic Management Support (GEMS) project.
He reiterated USAID’s support to the rollout of the outreach campaign in the PROSPER project sites in Nimba, Grand Bassa and other counties where communities have already applied to the FDA to create community forests.
The daylong exercise brought together several high profile individuals including the chair of the FDA Board of Directors, Sis. Mary Laurene Brown, the European Union head of delegation to Liberia, Attilio Pacifici, as well as members of the National Legislature.