A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure cooperation in their partnership to enhance forestry compliance and enforcement has been signed by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
During the signing ceremony at the MOJ offices in Sinkor recently, Justice Minister Frederick Cherue emphasized that the MOU is a key element of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), signed between the Liberian Government and the European Union (EU), under the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan.
The VPA, which came into force in 2013, is aimed at addressing illegal logging, improving forest governance and promoting trade in legal timber products. The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and a timber-exporting country outside the EU.
The FDA Managing Director Harrison Karnwea, who signed on behalf of his entity, mentioned that the MOU would enhance law enforcement in the forestry sector with support from the European Union and the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development, under the initiative:
“Forest Governance Capacity Building in Liberia with FDA and MOJ in support of the VPA Process.”
The European Union Ambassador to Liberia Ms. Tiina Intelmann welcomed the signing of the MOU and the efforts to establish solid governance of the forestry sector in Liberia. The EU diplomat stressed that transparency and accountability were crucial to ensuring that all Liberians benefit from the abundant natural resources of their beautiful country.
“We will continue to support you in this effort and look forward to seeing legitimate jobs and economic opportunities being created,” Ms. Intelmann assured Liberians attending the signing.
The MOU states that while the forests are pivotal to the nation’s environmental, financial and cultural interests, the lack of governmental oversight during the Liberian civil war saw proceeds of illegal logging activities funding some of the warring factions. This unlawful logging prompted the United Nations Security Council, in 2003, to impose a ban on all timber exports from Liberia. However, the UN recently lifted all sanctions, including those on all timber products leaving Liberia.