A US$37.5 million Government of Norway grant intended to manage the Liberian forest sector was launched on March 14 in Monrovia, attended by stakeholders and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
The program was held at the Monrovia City Hall.
Speaking on the theme: “Managing Forest to Benefit all Liberians,” World Bank Liberia Country Manager Ms. Larisa Leshchenko said in the Country Partnership Strategy, the Bank will remain engaged in the forest sector and policy dialogue.
She added that the grant is a means for the Bank to support the Government of Liberia’s 2006 National Forest Reform Law to manage its protected forest area network.
She said the Liberia Forest Sector Project is a first-time initiative that has the dual objective of forest sector management and realizing the sector’s contribution to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
Ms. Leshchenko pointed out that healthy forests and landscapes can help Liberians realize real reductions in global emissions in the short and long terms.
The World Bank official stressed that these emission reductions can and should be achieved in a way that maintain transparency and environmental integrity.
She intimated that the World Bank has reinforced its strategy to support national efforts in the sustainable management of the country’s forests.
In order to meet this goal, Mr. Leshchenko said in April this year, the Board of the World Bank Group would endorse the Forest Action Plan.
Ms. Leshchenko disclosed that such a move would aim to integrate the sustainable management of forests more fully into development and define priorities for the World Bank Group for the next five years.
“This project we are launching today directly responds to the Forests Action Plan…forests and landscapes as key pillars in our new Climate Change Action Plan,” Ms. Leshchenko said.
In a statement, the Executive Director of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Madam Anyaa Vohiri, pledged her agency’s cooperation in the implementation of various components of the project.
In remarks, the Norwegian Government representative, Arild Skedsmo, urged all implementing partners connected to the Liberia Forest Sector Project to ensure the practical implementation of all components of the initiative in the best interest of all Liberians.
The Norwegian official also expressed the hope that every effort would be made to ensure that all partners work around the clock to ensure the protection of Liberia’s forests.
FDA outgoing managing director Harrison Karnwea urged partners and stakeholders to continue to exhibit commitment and support to the worthy cause of protecting the country’s forests.
Mr. Karnwea said there were widespread speculations in Liberia that the letter of intent signed between the FDA and Norway was intended to stop commercial logging.
He, however, clarified that the letter of intent with the Government of Norway was intended to sustainably manage Liberia’s forests for the benefit of Liberia.
Karnwea urged the in-coming manager and team to step in their footsteps and work with Liberians, especially lawmakers, for the successful implementation of the Liberia Forest Sector Project.
He extended thanks and appreciation to the Liberian government for the opportunities afforded him to serve the people and the state in different capacities over the years.
Saah A. David Jr National Coordinator of LFSP in Liberia, provided synopsis on the various mechanisms on how the initiative will benefit Liberians, especially dependents of forest communities.
Mr. David underscored the need for the support and cooperation of all line ministries and agencies connected to the forest initiative.