The Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) will today turn over a building that has been reconditioned in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County for use by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
The building was initially built by the Liberian government in 1981 and was one of the four structures that previously housed the FDA’s offices in Buchanan, a press statement issued in Monrovia yesterday by the public relations department of the FDA said.
To further strengthen the FDA’s law enforcement capacity at the national level, the VPA will provide forest and logistical equipment which include motorbikes, laptops and printers, GPS units, uniforms and cameras for use by the FDA’s regional office.
The reconditioning of the building and procurement of the equipment and materials were funded by the EU and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (UKaid/DFID).
The refurbishment of the office and the donation of the materials mark the start of a sustainable forest management pilot project that was initiated to enhance law enforcement in the forestry sector through its governance capacity building efforts in Liberia, with the FDA and Ministry of Justice as major players, according to the statement.
“Given that about 80 percent of 190 to 199 cubic meters (of forest products) exported from Liberia in 2016 was handled through the port of Buchanan, VPA and FDA agreed on the need to strengthen FDA’s operations in district offices in FDA Region 3 covering Grand Bassa, Nimba and Rivercess counties,” the statement said.
It added that the three companies operating in FDA Region 3 are the Forest Management Contract (FMC B) owned and operated by E J & J Investment Corporation; Forest Management Contract (FMC/C), owned and operated by Liberia Tree & Trading; and Forest Management Contract (FMC/K), owned and operated by International Consultant Capital (ICC).
The VPA statement pointed out that these companies channel their logs through the port of Buchanan.
Today’s ceremony in Buchanan will be led by the Liberian Government represented by the FDA managing director, Darlington S. Tuagben; Charge d’affaires, Mrs. Emma Sundblad of the EU delegation and British Ambassador, David Belgrove.
The EU, the statement said, acknowledges the continued engagement with the Liberian government through the FDA and VPA processes from the civil society community and private sector in the country.
It named those actors as the VPA National Multi-stakeholder Monitoring Committee, which comprises the NGO Coalition of Liberia, Liberia Timber Association, National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee, the Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Labor and the Liberia Revenue Authority.
The EU and Liberian Government signed the VPA, which has been extended to a number of countries with the aim of assuring the legality of timber exported to EU countries.
Liberia has decided to go one step further by applying the VPA principles to all timber exported from Liberia to countries outside of the EU.
“Only through legality can we ensure that forests are sustainably managed and communities get their fair share of benefits from their forest resources. And the VPA process would support the whole country through the collection of taxes, thus creating wealth and jobs,” the statement concluded.