At the first National Forest Forum, which is underway in the commercial city of Ganta, the issue surrounding Forest resource benefit sharing among the affected communities is among the key topics under discussion.
The forum, which began on Thursday, November 12, brought together representatives from the affected forest communities in Liberia, where logging activities are ongoing, as well as partners in the forest sector, including Conservation International, the Fauna and Flora International and local partners in the forest management sector.
Under the theme, “Forest resource benefit sharing for sustainable development” the Forum examines how communities have benefited from the use of the community forests by either logging companies or mining companies in the country.
In her opening statement, Ms. Nora Bowier, chairperson, National Benefit Sharing Trust Board, said the forum is held with three objectives in mind: 1) to evaluate, analyses and assess the national benefit-sharing trust mechanism and provide a forum to discuss policy and legal frameworks of the benefits sharing mechanism; 2) to understand the sources of revenue currently being generated by the forest sector and identity new areas of income generation and how they can be integrated and consolidated under existing benefit management; and 3) to learn from experiences around benefit-sharing from other sectors, including mining, and oil palm, that can enhance current processes in the forest sector, identifying best practices and strategies.
Some of the topics under discussion include, understanding the community benefits mechanisms; theoretical & legislative framework; description of the situation of benefits received and accrued from forestry to communities; county prospective; understanding the frameworks for community project implementation; and describing the benefits accruing from the community forestry benefits mechanisms.
Other topics also include, understanding the processes procedures and challenges for the management and allocation of benefits; understanding the contribution of the forest sector to total tax contribution for the government of Liberia; examining the scope of revenues generated by the forestry sector; and the carbon benefits sharing mechanism, among others.
The chairperson of FDA Board, Mr. Harrison Karnwea, expressed concern about why it is taking so long for the government to relinquish funds collected from the forest sector to the community. According to him, a year ago, in their last discussion at the Farmington Hotel, they recommended to lawmakers to amend the law so that the benefits paid to the government should be paid directly to the community, but this request is yet to be adhered to. However, Mr. Karnwea has frowned on the communities for mismanagement of the forest, especially financially. He said while it is true that the government needs to do more, the communities need to stop their corrupt attitudes.