The forest affected communities across Liberia are asking the central government to deposit all forest-related benefits to the account of the National Benefits Sharing Trust Board instead of passing through the Liberia Revenue Authority.
According to a resolution reached by the communities, community benefits should be paid directly to the NBSTB account and a mechanism should be defined to ensure that the NBSTSB is a signatory to an escrow account opened by the company as specified in the law, with a relevant community serving as co-signatory.
The resolution, which outlined several points said a cubic meter fee should also be paid directly to the NBSTB to combat the governance issues at the community level, and as such a mechanism put in place to enable the community to manage the fund properly.
Other conditions outlined include the need to strengthen communities’ capacities to ensure accountability and transparency; the need to design an intervention plan in order to improve/ build the capacities of the communities to manage the forests in support of reforestation.
“Communities should explore other avenues for income-generating activities beyond commercial contracts,” the resolution said.
“The various benefits coming to communities should be defined clearly so that communities, private sector, civil society, and government are aware of what exactly communities are entitled to, communities should explore partnerships with private sector companies to engage in profitable Eco-tourism initiatives,” the resolution said.
On Wednesday, November 11 to 13, all actors in the forest sectors conversed at the Jackie Hotel for the first National Forest Forum under the theme, “Forest resource benefits sharing for sustainable development.”
Former FDA Managing Director and Chairman on FDA Board, Harrison Karnwea, said there is a need for a community to establish a project and get a loan to carry out their own logging instead of leasing the forest to a company where little or nothing is paid for cubic meter and substandard roads are built that get eroded after heavy rainfall.
Mr. Karnwea urged the community, especially the young people to start thinking forward instead of fighting one another for the little amount companies are paying.
The Chairperson of the National Benefits Sharing Trust Board Ms. Nora Bowier applauded the participants including the partners, the community as well as the FDA and the board for coming together to share such brilliant ideas that resulted in the resolution.
Early in her introductory remarks, she outlined the objectives of the forum as evaluating, analyzing, and assessing the National Benefits Sharing Trust mechanism and providing a forum to discuss policy and legal frameworks of the benefits sharing mechanism, understanding the sources of revenue currently being generated by the forest, and identifying new areas of income generation and how they can be integrated and consolidated under existing benefits management structures.
Additionally, Ms. Browier said the forum was meant to learn from experiences around benefit-sharing from other sectors, including mining and oil palm, that can enhance current processes in the forest sector, identify best practices and strategies.
In the NBSTB report, the total amount received from the Government of Liberia as benefits from forest resources in 2017 were US$2,622,000.00USD and funding approved projects from land rental fees in the United States Dollars from 2016 to 2019 is $1,108,834.97, while the total amount used in funding projects from land rental fees in Liberian Dollars from 2017 to 2019 is US$105,527,341.75.