LIBERIA HAS ONE MORE CHANCE TO BENEFIT FROM THE FOREST SECTOR: says Mr. Billy

LIBERIA HAS ONE MORE CHANCE TO BENEFIT FROM THE FOREST SECTOR: says Mr. Billy

By Ballah M. Kollie

MONROVIA, March 20,2018 – The Program Manager of Forest, Environment, and Natural Resource Management (FENRM), Abraham Billy has revealed that Liberia’s forest sector still has greater potentials that give citizens the second chance to reap the benefit of their heritage.

“The forest sector still has potential, and when managed well, it can generate revenues and reduce environmental damage and threats to rural livelihoods”, he told participants at programs marking this year’s International Day of Forest.

The program was organized on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 by the coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGO) under the banner “NGO Coalition and international partners.”

International Day of Forest is celebrated each year in March worldwide. This year’s celebration by NGO Coalition and partners in Liberia was held at the Corina Hotel under the theme: “Save Liberia’s Tropical Forest, Save Liberia’s Future”.

The program was organized by the NGO Coalition of Liberia with support from the European Union (EU) through Volunteer with the aim of Supporting International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSEIDA) and Tropenbos International.

It was graced by representatives from EU, LINSU, EPA, FDA, and many other organizations in the forestry sector.

Mr. Billy also told the gathering of forest experts that over the last 15 years (between 2000 and 2018), it is estimated that roughly 25% of Liberia’s forests has been deforested and/or degraded, which he said is affecting the country’s rich biodiversity, thus contributing to climate change and increasing poverty in the country.

He said in order to achieve maximum preservation and management of the forest, there has to be efficient monitoring of logging operations to reduce widespread corruption and violation of forestry regulations.

“Dialoguing on these laws polices or agreements to improve governance and equitable management of Liberia’s forest are important”, he noted in his presentation. In furtherance, FENRM Program Manager intimated that forest serves as an important source of wealth to Liberia and its people.

Topics toping the dialogue include analysis of community forestry management agreement (CFMA) and enforcement of forest laws and polices-regulatory functions. The discussion is expected to enhance knowledge on forest laws and policies, and create momentum for change in the forest sector by ensuring that it encourages and support evidence based discussions and promote sensitization, lobbying, negotiation, dialogue and debates on forest matters.

According to experts in the sector, Liberia has approximately 4.5 million hectares of lowland tropical forest that comprises 43% of the remaining Upper Guinea forests of West Africa. The rainforests provide critical local and global benefits to most people in term of livelihoods. Of the above hectares, about 60% has been allotted to timber and agriculture concessions; while the remaining constitute national forest reserves under the Forestry Development Authority and/or owned and managed by local communities.

It was highlighted at the interactive dialogue which lasted for over four hours that the depressing thing is that over the last 15 years (between 2000 and 2018), it is estimated that roughly 25% of Liberia’s forests has been deforested and/or degraded, which has harmed the country rich biodiversity, thus contributing to climate change and increasing poverty in the country-all as a result of poor concession planning during which process; corruption takes precedence from the executive to legislature and to the Judiciary.

At the end of the day, host communities are victimized and left vulnerable much to the surprise of international partners who work 24 hours around the clock to ensure equitable distribution of resources generated by the sector.

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