FDA Board Chair Pleads for Forest Safety

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(From left) FDA Board Chair Harrison S. Karnwea and EU Head of Delegation, Amb. Laurent Delahousse

The board chair of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Mr. Harrison S. Karnwea, says in order to save the forest of Liberia from depletion and avoid the consequences of climate change, Liberia’s international partners who are providing some forms of supports to the nation’s forest sector should continue their support.

“We call on all of our partners to continue to support us until we reach the milestone very soon; we want them to do even a little more. We want to save the forests,” Mr. Karnwea said.

He reminded those partners that the forests make more money while standing than when they are cut down; adding, “This country remains the lung of the sub-region.”

Liberia alone possesses about 40 percent of the remaining Upper Guinea Forest south of the Sahara and the Sahel Savanna.

Mr. Karnwea along with others spoke last Thursday, November 26, at the close of a three-day Liberia-European Union Voluntary Partnership Agreement on Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT). It was the eighth sitting of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC), with the aim to promote sustainable forest governance through partnership.

Speaking further, the FDA Board Chair emphasized that Liberia’s mode of farming, which is slashing and burning of the forest and shifting cultivation every farming season, is reducing the forests drastically.

“In order to stop this, we have got to do some sustainable farming practices and they are very expensive: If you go to Grand Gedeh or River Gee and you want to clear a swamp to lay it out for rice [planting], you will need a front-dozer,” he stated.

He told the Europeans who were some of the major partners attending the meeting, that Liberia’s partners invest US$20 million in forest conservation activities to save the forests, but can’t afford to get the nation one front-dozer, “It becomes problematic.”

“Then the question is, where does the money go? US$20M. How can we buy two or three bulldozers to clear the swamps and make it possible for the people to have stationary farming instead of cutting the forests here, there and yonder?”

He also reminded his audience that “Community Forest Management” has now become the new legal way of jumping into the forests.  He emphasized that if they at FDA and partners don’t want those communities to contract the forests to commercial loggers, “We need to support those communities so that they do sustainable business themselves.”

He stressed that the challenge was theirs as partners to support Liberia’s forest sector so as to stop the rate at which the forest is being consumed.

He used the occasion to call for concerted efforts on how to make the soil more productive so as to reduce the rate at which farmers cut down the forests to make farms.

Also speaking, Ambassador Laurent Delahousse, Head of Delegation of the European Union in Liberia, thanked every participant for the “Spirit of commitment that had been shown” over the three-day period and towards the process.

“You have set a new timeline; you have committed to new deadlines, objectives: it’s not 100 percent, obviously, but nothing is 100 percent,” Amb. Delahousse said.

“I want to salute the spirit in which all members participated today and to say how the EU and the UK are committed to supporting all stakeholders in Liberia to both develop and implement sustainable forestry practices and to save the forest,” the EU Head of Delegation said.

He reminded Liberians that they still have most of the beautiful West African forests that most of their neighbors have not been “So careful” to protect.

“You are blessed in Liberia with bio-nature; let us all together respect this nature. Let us work to benefit from its fruits, but let’s do it in a way that ensures our children, our grandchildren and after them, more future generations will also benefit from it,” Amb. Delahousse stated.        

At the end of the 8th JIC, which convened at a local hotel in Monrovia, the EU and Liberia agreed that key decisions and action points from the meeting would be reviewed, documented, and signed during the Formal Session. Liberia and the EU further agreed that due to the density of JIC discussions at the 8th JIC, the full Aide Memoire documenting the meeting would undergo a more detailed review and be signed by both parties within seven days of the meeting. During the official opening, “The EU and Liberia agreed that there is a need to further accelerate Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) implementation and improve Liberia’s global competitiveness by sustainably managing the forest. The parties agreed that the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID 19) is something the world must live with and therefore it is not an excuse to delay the implementation of the VPA.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is not called the “Rain Forest” for nothing. The forest helps a lot to sustain the balance of the Eco-system, first and foremost, in our country and then the rest of the West African region south of the Sahara. The ecosystem is about the flora and fauna of a particular geographical region and their natural relationship to each other, and to the environment. Maintaining the normal balance in this natural scheme of things, is liken to securing the safety and security of the nation, such as protection from an epidemic/pandemic and/or intrusion by an enemy force.

    All animal species within the bounds of the country – this includes the animals as we know them, the birds, the fish and crustaceans in the water – make up the fauna of the land. In fact, biologically speaking, we humans are also animals (even though we also have the spiritual component). The plants make up the flora, while the soil, water, and air make up the environment. We depend on each other for our livelihood, and thereby for the natural existence of each species. How often do we take this balance of nature for granted?

    We need the rain for water to drink, for enabling the soil to nourish and make the plants grow, and to sustain our bodies of water which are a natural habitat for fish and crustaceans. Now, we know where the food we eat daily comes from. The plants also produce the oxygen that we and other animals need to breathe, and vice versa, the plants need the air we breathe out (called carbon dioxide) for them to live.

    The rain forest sustains the normal cycle of air and rain that is needed in a region to maintain the normal ecosystem that we try to explain above. If the rain forest is destroyed, it could bring about drought, with no rain and possible desertification which could lead to famine. Famine is when we cannot grow food because of bad soil, and people could die of hunger and diseases.

    We need to educate our people and even the government about how this whole thing works, and why it is very important to our national security and economy.

  2. What an insightful point concerning educating the public about the consequences of destroying the ecosystem! What hurts me most Charlse, as you lay out the benefits of taking care of the environment is the fact that we have a government, which does not seem to attach any seriousness to forest conservation.

    Devastating the ecology and tapping the resources for the personal enrichment of the rich and powerful politicians trounces reforestation. A sad point is when the leader himself outright tells the citizenry he does not believe in education. So, where and how does one start with mass education?

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