The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) says his agency is committed to open, transparent and accountable leadership in the forestry sector.
Director Harrison Karnwea gave the assurance Wednesday in Monrovia during a press conference intended to address the issue of funds committed by the Kingdom of Norway in an agreement with the Liberian Government and the concerns of logging companies operating in the country.
Last month the Norwegian Government, through a partnership agreement with Liberia, committed US$150 million to GOL in exchange for preserving the Liberian forests against deforestation, degradation and greenhouse gas emission.
Director Karnwea also intimated that the FDA will continue to foster collective ownership of the Liberian forest resources through open dialogue where the interests of all partners and other stakeholders are protected and secured.
He also explained that the partnership between Norway and Liberia is aimed at facilitating green growth through development of a deforestation-free agriculture sector in the country.
Director Karnwea pointed out that the Kingdom of Norway will support Liberia’s efforts with its grant of US$150 million until the year 2020.
Prior to the signing of the partnership agreement, Mr. Karnwea said, there were several consultations with civil society organizations working in the forest sector.
He indicated that government ministries and agencies were also engaged in extensive consultations and the discussions were climaxed with a visit from the Government of Norway in June 2014.
Director Karnwea further disclosed that during the initial years of the partnership agreement, funds from Norway to the tone of US$55 million dollars will be devoted to the implementation of policy measures and institution building.
He further intimated that US$15 million will be for direct budgetary support to the Liberian Government which means that phase one will total US$70 million.
The FDA head also disclosed that in the period towards 2020, an additional US$80 million will be paid for verified reduced emissions.
The implementation of the partnership agreement will be flexible and adapted to the challenging circumstances of Liberia, he said.
The partnership agreement will enable Liberia to place 30% or more of the Liberian forest estates under protected area status before 2020, something Liberia has not been able to do due to lack of funds.
The agreement further stated that the initiative will build capacity in relevant institutions and increase efforts to enforce the law, strengthen forest governance to avoid illegal and unsustainable logging.
Direct payments to communities for protecting the Liberian forest and establishing a public-private coalition with multilateral companies committed to zero deforestation policies are also part of the agreement.
It further aims to contribute to sustainable development in Liberia through the protection of natural forests, restoration of degraded lands and development of Liberia’s agriculture through enhancement of sustainable agricultural management.
Under the General Approach and Principles of the agreement, the parties will give all relevant stakeholders, including local communities, civil society and women in particular, the opportunity to fully and effectively participate in the planning and implementation of REDD+.
Additionally, the parties (Norway and Liberia) will respect the rights of individuals, indigenous forest dependents and local communities to give or withhold their free, prior and informed consent to operations on lands on which they hold legal communal and customary rights. The parties will ensure that those tenure rights are respected.
“We have an unwavering commitment to work with all of our partners, including the Liberia Timber Association (LTA), civil society, the forest dependent communities and other partners that have a stake in the proper management of our forest resource,” Director Karnwea concluded.