A coalition of non-governmental organizations (NGO) under the banner NGO Coalition and international partners on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 observed International Day of Forest Celebration.
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 funding support from the European Union (EU) through Volunteer To Support International Efforts In Developing Africa (VOSEIDA) and Tropenbos International. It was graced by representatives from EU, LINSU, EPA, FDA, etc.
At the 4 hours interactive discussion, the Program Manager of Forest, Environment, and Natural Resource Management (FENRM) Abraham Billy said while the dialogue seeks to address several key challenges, it was necessary to know that Liberia’s forest sector still has greater potential, nothing, the country and its people have 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 disclosed.
Mr. Billy 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 and or agreements to improve governance and equitable management of Liberia’s forest is important”, he said.
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.
The country-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.
What is so depressing 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 those resources.