The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) through the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committees (NUCFDC) recently launched a community forestry project valued at over US$80,000, to strengthen communities’ capacity in monitoring benefits from commercial logging.
The new initiative, funded by the European Union (EU), Swedish Cooperation (SIDA), United Kingdom through the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), EU- Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Program, seeks to equip affected communities with skills and tools to be able to monitor the benefits they received through logging, to communicate and share information on progress which will robustly defend their rights, under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) Legality Assurance System (LAS).
The capacity of the Community Forestry Development Committees (CFDC) within eight counties, including River Cess, River Gee, Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Grand Kru, Maryland, Grand Bassa and Grand Cape Mount, will be strengthened under the new initiative.
The project was signed within the framework of the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the Government of Liberia (GoL) and the EU in 2009-2012, but was ratified in 2013.
The VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and countries, such as Liberia, that produce or export timber products outside the EU, with the purpose to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreement also help timber- exporting countries to stop illegal logging by improving regulations and governance of the forest sector.
FDA Technical Manager of the Commercial Forestry Department Jerry G. Yormah, who launched the program on behalf of C. Mike Doryen, FDA Managing director, said the administration acknowledges the longstanding partnership between FAO and the FDA.
Yormah said the FAO remains a technical partner to the FDA, which has over the years strengthened the capacity of forest producing organizations.
Mr. Yormah said that one of the major problems in the commercial forestry is the issue of benefits accrued from forest products for community dwellers.
“With this funding, the FDA assures you that the issue of the usages and monitoring of benefits to communities on forest products will be addressed,” he declared.
He praised the communities for taking the needed steps in assisting the government monitor benefits from commercial logging.
The Policy Officer of the EU/FAO partnership program Al Hassan Cisse, said forestry plays a key role in providing income for farmers to enhance their food security and nutrition status.
He said the new agreement, signed by the NUCFDC and FAO, re-emphasized the FAO/EU’s preparedness in supporting the forestry sector.
He said FAO and EU are partnering in forestry good governance in order to ensure that food and nutrition security is enhanced, and that sustainable agriculture is promoted to built the resilience of communities.
Mr. Cisse, who spoke on behalf Ms. Mariatou Njie, FAO Representative in Liberia, further stressed that the agreement marked a milestone for communities in exercising their rights to livelihood and agriculture.
Both the VPA Support Unit and the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI) welcomed the support from FAO, which has been able to empower communities in monitoring benefits from commercial logging.
They assured partners of their commitment to support the NUCDFC and reach out to affected communities, to acquire the necessary skills in monitoring benefits of commercial logging.