Authorities of the National Charcoal Union of Liberia (NACUL) say their attention has been drawn to the continued use of mangroves and other forest areas for charcoal production. The mangroves, NACUL says, remove and store greenhouse gases from the earth’s atmosphere slowing the onset of global warming, which also helps to reduce the impacts of flooding.
The Union convened a one-day stakeholders’ meeting in Kakata, Margibi County, on Tuesday, August 16 under the theme, “Engaging Relevant Government Authorities and Other Producers’ Networks to Enhance Partnership between NCUL and Other Stakeholders.”
“Charcoal production results in deforestation, thinning of the ozone layer and global warming which induces climate change,” NACUL president Richard T.A. Dorbor told participants.
NACUL, Mr. Dorbor said, was established on December 6, 2004, as a community based organization (CBO) with the objectives being to formulate charcoal producers’ collective position and views on issues directly affecting them and other disadvantaged groups in Liberia, on political and socio-economic issues that may have serious negative implications on charcoal groups.
The union also aims to educate and strengthen the capacity of charcoal institutions both at local and national levels. NACUL intends to be involved in the promotion of charcoal production, the recognition of charcoal as a key source of energy in Liberia and the provision of safe environments and the establishment of clear marketing arrangements and rules for charcoal production for sustainable peace, justice, security and livelihood in Liberia.
The mission is to build the capacities, advocate and promote charcoal producers for sustainable charcoal production in the rural areas of Liberia.
The vision is a just and fair Liberian society where charcoal producers and sellers equally participate in and benefits from decision making processes at all levels and in all areas, NACUL stated.
In recent times, the sustainability of the Liberian forests has become a major focus of government, environmentalists, the international community and other stakeholders.
As a result of deforestation leading to land degradation, climate change and threats to biodiversity and ecosystems the meeting took into consideration the issues of reforestation and afforestation
Other presenters including Saah A. David, Jr., National REDD+ Project Coordinator working with the Forestry Development Authority, named chainsaw, subsistence farming, charcoal production and agriculture as activities that affect the sector.
Meanwhile, Tuesday’s meeting, according to Mr. Dorbor, was held to formalize the charcoal sector; create awareness among the various ministries and agencies, the non-governmental organizations on activities of charcoal production in the country relating to deforestation, degradation, as well as climate change.
The intention is for charcoal producers to see themselves as part of the forest and farm families as they develop opportunities for improved livelihoods.
They recommended that as a means to positively impact the process of sustainable management of the forests, community leaders should collaborate with the FDA to provide tree planting and wood lots to reduce deforestation as a result of charcoal production.
They further recommended that the earth pit method should serve as an alternative source, “because wood is not the only source of charcoal production as there are many sources. There is saw dust, coconut shell and husks, corn stalks, etc.”
Efficient use of charcoal
NACUL also highlighted the sustainability of the forests as part of activities that must begin with an efficient use of forest products, such as charcoal.
“We believe as a union that charcoal in Liberia is not being used efficiently. As a result of an inefficient use, the demand for charcoal increases thereby putting pressure on the forests to meet the demand,” Mr. Dorbor said.
The present cooking pots used in Liberia, he said, are also responsible for the inefficient use of charcoal, noting that the energy needed to cook using this method escapes, thereby creating the need for and use of more charcoal.
Improve the Production Technology
As a means of improving production output, NACUL believes that the present method (earth pit) is not healthy in sustainable management of the forest. This method involves more input of woods with less output of charcoal; therefore, for sustainability of the forests there is a need to improve the production technology.