The managing director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), C. Mike Doryen has decried the “degradation of the forests” across the country.
Doryen raised the concerns at the national consultation of the technical and financial partners of the Liberian national forest investment program (NFIP) held on Monday, May 6, 3019, at a resort near Monrovia.
“Forest cover and biodiversity in Liberia are at risk from population pressures and rapid development largely from logging, agriculture expansion, mining, charcoal production and firewood collection,” he said in his opening statement.
He said besides being home to significant terrestrial biodiversity and a major carbon sink, forests also help to maintain the fertility of the soil, protect watersheds, and reduce the risk of natural disasters, such as floods and landslides.
“It is important for people to understand and act appropriately in line with regulations governing the management of the forestry sector. Let us all know that deforestation and degradation threaten biodiversity, forest-related ecological services, and rural livelihoods,” Doryen added, noting further that the key to unlocking the potentials and opportunities provided by forests is sustainable forest management.
He noted that Liberia’s forest is home to many rare and endemic species and listed as one of 34 global biodiversity hotspots.
“Liberia has over 2,000 species of flowering plants, 225 timber species, 600 bird species and 150 mammals, while 75 reptiles have been identified also,” he said.
Doryen called on Liberians and other residents to consider the country, which represents an important source of community livelihood and government revenue, as well as a means that provides basic employment across the country.
He said while there are challenges, the FDA will not relent in ensuring that all activities in the forestry sector are based on sound scientific and technical principles, the forest conservation and that development laws and policies of Liberia are adhered to, among others.
Dr. Johnson Boanuh, director for environment at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission for organic, environment and water services, said protecting the sub-region’s forests is not just for the benefit of a country possessing it, but the entire ECOWAS region of Africa and beyond.
“Let me convey to you that the ECOWAS Commission on agriculture, environment and water resources is standing by you to mobilize the necessary resources, mainly finance to effectively implement your national forest investment plan,” Boanuh told the participants.
He said the ECOWAS Commission is pleased that agriculture experts have developed and validated a national document, mainly those who understand issues of the forestry sector.
Edward Sheik A. Kamara, manager for forest products, marketing and revenue forecast recalled that in June 2010 a meeting of ministers responsible for forests and wildlife of the members of ECOWAS was held in Cotonou, Benin, where member countries formally adopted a dialogue document on forests in West Africa. The meeting also developed terms of reference for the study on the preparation of a forest convergence plan for the management and sustainable use of forest ecosystems in West Africa.”
“After the adaptation, the ministers requested the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for support to prepare a forest convergence plan for their member states; and on January 20, 2011, ECOWAS Commission and the FAO signed the Project TCP/RAF/3306 entitled; “Support for the preparation of the West Africa,” and later it was launched in March, 2011.
Following the Cotonou meeting of the ECOWAS ministers in 2011, Kamara said FAO contracted national consultants for Liberia to develop country reports on issues relating to forest and agro forestry ecosystem management, forest governance, and physical and socio-economic aspects as a contribution to the development of the Forest Convergence Plan for West Africa.
He said Liberia, in 2012 convened a stakeholders’ workshop in which the views of the partners were solicited and developed into a comprehensive document in line with the ECOWAS Commission’s expectation, and has since been in use for the effective management of the country’s forests.