Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) has rejected what it says are erroneous assertions about the proposed sale of timber from palm oil concessions and has made it clear that its development work in Liberia is in line with national and international laws on the protection of forests and endangered species.
GVL has always made it clear that it will never seek to engage in any form of commercial logging, a press release said.
GVL emphasizes that the company is developing oil palm in south eastern Liberia in partnership with local communities, carefully preserving forests and endangered animal and plant species. The communities’ livelihoods are protected through land planning and community prosperity is built through local employment, business and skill building, the GVL release states.
Oil Palm areas are decided by the local communities through a free informed consent process (FICP) and following approval by the Liberian EPA based on independent ESIAs and approval under the RSPOs New Planting Procedures.
Communities allow GVL into certain areas; reserve other areas for community farming, forests and also for Community Oil Palm and Out-growers. Oil Palm is developed on non-forested areas only. But these areas can also contain trees the communities wish to utilize for timber or even for small scale logging before conversion into oil palm.
Leroy Kanmoh, GVL Communications Coordinator explained that “some timber is left in non-forested areas by communities. When the community allocated the land for oil palm, this timber was desired by the community to be harvested. Based on this the community requested that GVL propose to the FDA to have them extracted before our development. Following almost a year of discussions with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), we advised the community that FDA and SDI had not been able to suggest a legal way to extract and market these logs and so it would not be possible for a permit to be granted.”
Liberian Innovation in Sustainability
Beyond legality, GVL is also undertaking innovative sustainable actions including adapting the High Carbon Stock (HCS) Assessment approach to Liberia. The HCS approach is a methodology that distinguishes forest areas for protection from degraded lands with low carbon and biodiversity values that may be developed, the press release stated.
GVL’s environmental teams, led by Liberian management, environmentalists and field staff, worked with international organizations, and are today the experts in Liberia on carbon stock preservation. “We start from satellite mapping and then proceed to ‘ground truthing’ in the field,” according to Mr Flomo Molubah, GVL’s General Manager for sustainability in Sinoe. “The fieldwork is done with local community elders who know their lands, and community youth who learn surveying and GPS satellite locating.”
Towards Community Oil Palm
In the case of the above mentioned Tarjuowon community, GVL pays approximately US$1.4 million direct to community members in annual payroll, even though development in Tarjuowon is not yet complete, the press release says. GVL also pays almost US$1 million to the next largest recipient, the Butaw community. These amounts represent mainly wages earned by ordinary community members. Additionally, GVL employs Liberian staff and management in higher skilled positions with a payroll of more than US$2 million annually in the counties, according to the press release.
The next important objective for GVL, the press release says, is to work with communities, the government of Liberia and funders to begin the Community Oil Palm Out Grower program.
The out grower farms are owned by the community. If successfully implemented, the Out Grower farms and other means of income, such as rubber and vegetables and animal crops, it is hoped, according to the release, to allow communities to preserve larger areas of the forests that they own, while bringing prosperity.