The Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), Boima S. Kamara told the over 70 graduates from the Forestry Training Institute (FTI) in Tubmanburg, Bomi County, that proper management of the country’s forest resources would provide significant boost to the country’s economic development.
Minister Kamara, who served as keynote speaker at the 7th Commencement Convocation of the FTI last Friday, informed the gathering that 40 percent of the remaining rain-forest in West Africa is found in Liberia, something which he described as “a blessing and tremendously important for our country.”
He said forest sustainability is very important for the survival and preservation of any nation and it is tied to the concept of sustainable development.
Minister Kamara highlighted that sustainable forest management promotes sustainable development by keeping the balance between ecological, economic and socio-cultural pillars.
He emphasized that by successfully achieving sustainable forest management some of the benefits to be derived will include safeguarding local livelihoods, protecting the biodiversity and ecosystems provided by forests, reducing rural poverty and mitigating some of the effects of climate change.
Speaking on the topic “Forest Sustainability in the context of Trained Mid-Level Forest Rangers,” the Minister acknowledged the responsibilities of forest rangers to respond to natural or man-made threats, combat forest fires and perform search and rescue missions, do community engagements with emphasis on reforestation and other forest related activities, as well as provide in-depth information on climate change.
He then indicated that “considering the complexities and significance of forest management, Forest Rangers need to be properly trained and capacitated to be in charge of forest related issues. The Administration of the Forestry Training Institute, in collaboration with the government and development partners, should prioritize the provision of needed tools that will facilitate the work of the Rangers to be effective and efficient”.
The Finance boss extolled the students for their hard work and determination and also commended the school’s technical and administrative staff for providing quality guidance that helped the students in pursuit of technical skills.
While commending the graduates, which included sixteen were females, Mr. Kamara observed the gender gap and highlighted “today, 70 students are graduating from the Forestry Training Institute of which 54 are males, and 16 are females. This is highly commendable and largely due to the contributions made by you and your loved ones. The ratio of about 23% of females of the total number of graduates reflects that we still have worked to do in closing the gender gap in academia, the work place and at other professional levels of our society.”
He however acknowledged that the leadership of President Sirleaf has been keen about addressing the country’s capacity gap through several in interventions over the years.
He reflected that during the almost 12 years of President Sirleaf’s leadership, the government has endeavored to rebuild the damaged infrastructure as well as revitalize the human resource capacity of the country. He reminded the audience that several community colleges, professional and technical institutions have been built. “The creation and establishment of these institutions” he said, “are intended to respond to the educational needs of our country, particularly the young people.”
The Forestry Training Institute (FTI) is one of these technical institutions established by government to help respond to capacity gap especially in the forestry industry of the nation.