Authorities at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have concluded a one-day multi-stakeholder consultation on behalf of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) for the proposed cultivation of oil palm on 6.496 thousand hectares in Trembo and Barclayville Statutory Districts in Grand Kru County.
The EPA is responsible for the protection of the environment and the conservation of biodiversity through the implementation of policies that ensure long term economic prosperity for Liberia.
GVL is an Indonesian company that entered into a 65-year concession agreement with the government of Liberia. The company’s concession covers 220, 000 hectares in five counties including Sinoe, Grand Kru, Rivercess, River Gee and Maryland.
In accordance with the environmental laws of Liberia, the company recently applied for a permit to cultivate oil palm on 6.496 hectares in Trembo and Barclayville Statutory Districts.
Following the application process, an environment and social impact assessment study was conducted by Green Consultancy in keeping with the EPA’s requirement process.
As part of the process, a team from the EPA headed by the Deputy Executive Director, Urias S. Goll travelled to Barclayville over the weekend to discuss the environment assessment study report.
The interactive dialogue attracted stakeholders including representatives of pro-democracy groups, the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Ministries of Agriculture, Land, Mines and Energy, and Labor, and members of communities that would be affected by the oil palm plantation.
In a statement, Mr. Goll said the multi-stakeholder dialogue contradicts statements in some quarters that the government is not championing the cause of local people.
Goll indicated that the meeting, which is intended to discuss the environment and social impact assessment (ESIA) study with the locals, is also intended to get their views and inputs on the ESIA report prepared for GVL by an independent firm.
“People often say that government is not working in the interest of the people, but today we are here in the interest of the people of Grand Kru. The EPA is not here to tell you what you want to hear, or what you should do, but we are here to allow GVL and their consultant to tell you what they are about to do in your respective districts,” Mr. Goll noted.
He called on the residents to channel whatever grievances they have with government in a professional manner for peaceful resolution.
For his part, Aloysius K. Kotee, EPA’s Assistant ESIA Manager, said the department was established to assess projects being undertaken by concessionaires and other companies to ensure that they would not negatively impact the environment.
Mr. Kotee described the EPA as “a twin mother,” who is breastfeeding the company and the district with information, while playing the listening role.
He said landowners and GVL are the key stakeholders in the consultation.
It may be recalled that the Environmental Law of Liberia was passed into law in 2003, which birthed the EPA with the mandate to ensure that the environmental laws are adhered to.
A presentation on the outcome of the findings was led by representatives from Green Consultancy.