Forest Advocates Challenged to Preserve Sector

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A cross-section of the participants at the seminar

Samuel K. D. Kwenah, chairperson of NGO Coalition Management Team, yesterday challenged the over 30 participants at the two-day seminar to strengthen the capacity of non state-actors to preserve and improve Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade/Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT/VPA) and REDD+, which aims to reduce emission in Western Liberia.

The EU’s FLEGT Action Plan was established in 2003 to reduce illegal logging by strengthening sustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timber.

Kwenah wants the participants to remain engaged with the forest sector, because they are directly affected by “destructive loggers” and other non-forest friendly activities in their respective communities as one means to protect the forest.

Other speakers, including Augustus F. Kwalah, president of the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee, expressed gratitude to leadership of Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA), with support from the European Union through Tropenbos International under the Non-State Actors (NSAs) project for organizing the events.

The objectives are to engage action points undertaken, advocacy issues documented and responses action follow-up and enacted upon by participating NSAs.

The workshop, which runs from May 10 to May 11, 2018, is expected to build participants knowledge in “grassroots or “bottom-up approaches to advocacy.”

Participants will be trained in community forest monitoring and identification of needs and goals by community members themselves.

It will thereafter empower participants to reflect and act collectively and independently. The participants were drawn from communities in Lofa, Sinoe, Gbarpolu and Montserrado counties.

“Instead of advocating on behalf of the community, the participants [should] be used afterward to advocate on their own rights, while some of the advocates are professional staff of non-profit organizations,” a facilitator said.

Some of the professional bodies are the NGO Coalition, Civil Society Independent Forest Monitor, National Union of Community Forest Development Council, Community Forest Monitoring Body, National Charcoal Union, Chainsaw Union of Liberia and Liberia Timber Union.

The workshop, Richard Hoff from VOSIEDA said, is critical to the success of advocacy in the country to change some of the wrong approaches or methods used in advocacy and engaging key stakeholders to avoid the challenges encounter during such advocacy.

Topics to discuss will include introduction to five steps approach to advocacy and the dynamic and idea on new method of any policy advocacy.

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