The Peoples Rules and Organizations Supporting the Protection of Ecosystem Resources (USAID/PROSPER), in partnership with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), recently signed a community forest management agreement in Monrovia.
The agreement between the FDA and eight forest dependent communities resulting in eight Community Forest Management Agreements (CFMAs), is intended to entrust ownership and management rights to local communities.
The program brought together over 200 participants, including local leaders, representatives of forest dependent communities, officials of USAID Liberia, Liberia Timber Association, the Community Forestry Working Group, representatives of the World Bank and other stakeholders.
In 2012, USAID/PROSPER started working with eight forest dependent communities in Nimba and Grand Bassa counties as part of a pilot project on community forestry and alternative livelihoods.
Prior to the USAID/PROSPER engagement, the eight communities, Sehyi, Sehzueplay, Kparblee, Boe-Quilla, Gbear-Gblor, Kpogblen and Boe Quilla-Harmonville, were exploiting their forest resources at an unsustainable rate.
This was a result of ineffective coordination and poor forest management practices, which has changed since the coming of USAID in the sector.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, USAID-Liberia director Antony Chan said the agreement is meant to improve the management of forest, generate income and improve livelihoods in forest-dependent communities.
According to him, the USAID support will continue to build on the conservation and commercial aspect of forest management as it seeks to contribute to sustainable forest management by helping forest communities to generate income and improve their livelihoods through conserving forest resources.
Mr. Chan thanked the Forestry Development Authority and the community forest management for their effort in making the program successful.
He pledged USAID’s support in working with the FDA and the community forest management team.
The Acting Managing Director of FDA, Mr. Kederick Johnson, thanked USAID/PROSPER for their continuous engagement with the community forest management program.
“Many people did not believe that these things could ever happen. It is better to take a long time to do it right than to shortcut the process. Let me thank the communities for their patience and our partners for their support,” he said.
Meanwhile, in addition to the USAID/PROSPER supported communities, the FDA also independently supported the establishment of two Authorized Forest Communities, which signed CFMAs at a ceremony on February 22.