The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has signed a partnership agreement worth US$99,745 with the National Union of Community Forest Development Committee (NUCFDC) to strengthen the capacity of forest communities to effectively monitor the benefits from commercial logging in the country.
The agreement is under the framework of the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed by the Government of Liberia (GoL) and the European Union (EU) since 2009.
VPA is a legally binding bilateral trade agreement between the EU and timber-producing countries outside the EU, such as Liberia. The purpose of a VPA is to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreement also helps timber-exporting countries to stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of the forest sector.
With funding from the EU, Swedish Cooperation (SIDA), UK Government (UKAid) and through the FAO EU-FLEGT Program, the agreement seeks to equip affected communities with skills and tools to be able to monitor the benefits they receive through logging, to communicate and share information on the progress and robustly defend their rights under the VPA Legality Assurance System (LAS).
Mr. Andrew Y. Y. Zelemen Head of Secretariat and Project Team Leader of NUCFDC signed the partnership agreement for his organization while Jonathan Roberts Officer In-Charge of FAO signed on behalf of Madam Mariatou Njie, Country Representative of FAO who is currently out of the country.
Vincent Doe President of NUCFDC who made remark on behalf of his organization said that they were delighted to receive funding from FAO to monitor the effective management of commercial logging that would greatly benefit forest communities.
“We highly welcomed the agreement and we strongly believe that this project is going to strengthen our institution to effectively implement those issues related to the proper monitoring and management of commercial logging.
Roberts who signed on behalf of his boss said that the partnership agreement was very important to ensure that communities benefit from forest resources.
“Forestry is an important component for the development of Liberia so FAO is excited to support institutions to monitor the benefit of commercial logging to improve the lives of the citizens,” he said.
The one year project is entitled; Sustaining Gains: Improving Community Capacity to Monitor and Properly Manage Benefits from Commercial Logging in Liberia.
In an interview with the Daily Observer via mobile phone, the NUCFDC president said that this was not first agreement being signed with the FAO to monitor the benefits of commercial logging for forest communities.
According to him the previous one has contributed immensely to increasing forest communities’ participation in ensuring the benefits of commercial logging.
“The previous partnership agreement give us the opportunity to reach to all forest communities across Liberia so that commercial logging can greatly benefit the people. It also enable us to know about all social agreements and to make inputs so that it can benefit the communities as well as provided trainings,” he said.
He added that the current agreement will address the reactivation of forest communities’ organizations that become dormant because their mandate have expired.
“This new funding from FAO will help us further increase communities’ participation through awareness creation. It is meant to ensure the women and youths are inclusive in decision making processes for forest benefits from commercial logging. We will continue to respect the partnership between FAO and our organization,” he said.