Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Managing Director, Harrison Karnwea, has assured the European Union and other partners that strategies are being devised to improve the forestry sector in order to bring the expectations of partners to reality.
Mr. Karnwea made the statement at the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting held recently in Monrovia and attended by the Head of European Union, Tiina Intelmann, representatives of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Justice, the Liberia Revenue Authority, civil society, private sector and key development partners.
Mr. Karnwea spelled out his vision to have a well trained, equipped and operational FDA to sustainably manage the forest resource. The FDA vision includes generating revenue from timber and non-timber resources and ecosystem services as well as legally produced timber and finished and semi-finished timber products.
Thirty percent of Liberia´s forests, said Karnwea, will be held under conservation status, especially in the Sapo-Tai biodiversity corridor. FDA will also improve the agricultural sector in collaboration with partners to reduce its impact on forests and halt the expansion of the savannah in the north of the country.
As part of the vision, Mr. Karnwea said he would also transform FDA into a self-sustaining institution to serve as a catalyst of national development that takes over the services currently provided by SGS and other partners in the end of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) implementation process.
Earlier, Madam Tiina Intelmann described 2015 as a crucial year for the global community and the planet, noting that a series of international conferences will agree on financing for development, sustainable development and climate change goals for the next 15 years.
The FLEGT VPA between the EU and Liberia could make an important contribution to the joint efforts to tackle climate change.
She said deforestation and land use change are the main source of Greenhouse gas emissions in Liberia, but added that good forest governance and law enforcement are critical to the success of efforts to halt deforestation and forest degradation.
The objective of the meeting was to jointly review the implementation of the Liberia-EU VPA, take stock of the effects of Ebola on activities and agree on the priorities for 2015.
The VPA aims to put in place systems to ensure the legality of Liberia’s timber production and to strengthen forest sector governance.
This process expected to last for several years, will promote legal forestry, leading to more sustainable forest management, increased long term revenues for communities and the Government, investment and job creation. The EU has similar agreements with Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Indonesia, and the Central African Republic and is negotiating with 9 other countries.
Among the issues discussed were the key milestones in the development of the timber legality assurance system, further reinforcement of the legal framework and law enforcement as well as recent developments and challenges in the sector, including community forestry management agreements and transfer of timber revenues to communities.
Both Liberia and the EU were happy to acknowledge that the Ebola crisis has not derailed the VPA process, although they acknowledged that it has caused significant delays.
Members of the Joint Implementation Unit chaired by Sister Mary Laurene Browne were pleased to see that all stakeholders and support projects have fully remobilized.
They also expressed hope that the VPA implementation quickly returns to full speed and that some lost time be caught up.
Participants also discussed the synergies between the VPA process and the Liberia-Norway letter of intent on “Cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and developing Liberia’s agriculture sector.