In order to conduct a comprehensive review of the Authorized Community Forests (ACF) planning process, and to identify compliance level of planning requirements as well as harvesting of community forests actors, the Management of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) on Thursday, August 26, constituted a four (4) man taskforce committee named and styled “Community Forest Management Review Taskforce” in the country.
Forest management is cardinal to Liberia and her partners nowadays because it is one means of climate change mitigation, and partners stand to invest in forest and wildlife preservation to revert the consequences of climate change.
Already, the European Union is investing in Liberia’s forest through the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the purposes of preserving the forest and enabling forest communities to benefit from the proceeds of their forest from logging activities.
C. Mike Doyen, Managing Director of FDA who named the task force, disclosed that the team will conduct a weeklong desk review before its first monitoring field visit.
The team is chaired by Atty. Yanyoui Z. Dolo, BSc (Forestry) LLB (General Law), LLM (Environmental Laws); co-chaired by Mr. John McKay, BSc (Forestry) MSc (Environmental Science); with members, Atty. Gertrude Nyaley, BSc (Forestry) MSc (Forestry) LLB (General Law) and Mr. Edward Kamara, BSc (Forestry).
During the period of the desk review, Mr. Doyen said that no new permits from Commercial Use Contracts will be processed.
The FDA boss added that the taskforce will, however, process export permits that are already in the custody of the FDA only when a desk review is done of the applicant communities and their respective contractors.
Mr. Doyen, who spoke at a press conference on August 26 in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, further indicated that the taskforce will have a mandate to do a number of things, specifically, review the 15-years management plan of the authorized community management body, the five-year strategic plans of the operators as well as the annual operation plans of the operators.
“We expect the committee to conduct a tough and vigorous exercise and report to us with findings or recommendations for actions. We believe that from time to time the FDA has taken action to enhance forest governance—which this committee will spearhead the process,” he said.
According to him, Liberia has up to 43% of the remaining portion of the Upper Guinea Tropical Rain Forest which constitutes a significant portion of the forests in the Region.
Mr. Doyen said, “Several reforms have informed Liberia’s current forest management which has community forestry as a significant component. Communities utilize their forest through the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) for economic, social and environmental benefits.”
In addition, he said, communities have exercised their rights to forest resources through several means, including third-party forest management agreements. These agreements grant third-party rights to community forest resources to logging companies.
“FDA has mandated a comprehensive review of the planning process of third-party managed community forest to ensure compliance and further enhance forest governance,” the FDA Managing Director added.
He said under the Community Rights Law, which is part of the reform measures, communities are given rights to manage their forests for 15 years and after that period the government and communities can have discussion at their best as to how to manage their forests.
“Recently, we received over 140 applications from different communities to manage their own forest. But for this to happen, there’s a last step that the community must go through, which lasts from anywhere between two, three to seven years and once that is done, then, we have authorized community forest. So, today we have a little over 40 authorized community forest bodies, they are actually one-fourth of that number that is active. So our focus is, what can we do to continue to improve forest law so that the forest can remain protected and in tight?”
“On the basis of that, let me inform you about the actions that we have taken. The management of FDA, following discussion among ourselves, has constituted a taskforce to be named and styled “Community Forest Management Review Taskforce,” Mr. Doyen noted.
He expressed the hope that the taskforce will further review existing community forest management plans and ancillary, conduct an intensive field exercise to verify the level of compliance with the legal framework governing community forestry in Liberia, and a comprehensive report detailing findings and recommendations for corrective actions where necessary.
He further urged the taskforce to fully utilize the resources and expertise of the Law Enforcement Division and the Confiscation Unit of the FDA. The committee has a life span of one hundred days (100) commencing August 30, 2021.