Forest monitoring training for non-state actors has kicked off in Zorzor, Lofa County, with call on participants to take the training serious. The training, which runs from the 23rd of July to the 25th is implemented by the Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA) with funding support from the European Union.
More than 20participants from Kparyaquellie, Woima, Ganglota, and Bluyeama Community Forest Management Body (CFMB), Community Forest Development Committee (CFDC), Youth and Women groups are benefiting from the training.
The training is a part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of NSAs in forested counties of Lofa, Sinoe and Gbarpolu in forest governance, which began in Bopolu, Gbarpolu County last week.
Sundeh Albert Blanyon of the Liberia Export Permit and Licensing Unit of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and Roland P. Harris of the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors (CS-IFM) are serving as facilitators for the training workshop.
In their opening remarks, VOSIEDA Capacity Building Expert, Richard Hoff II urged participants to focus on the training. According to him it is expected that members of NSAs will take ownership of the leadership of community forest management after the training.
“You will have to take responsibility of the management of the community forests after this training”, Richard Hoff emphasized.
Mr. Hoff noted that training community members to monitor activities in their forests could lead to drastic reduction in illegal logging activities and noncompliance to social agreement, thereby increasing revenue from forest resources.
He said,the training will help community members on how todocumentillegal logging activities and alleviate potential challenges in accessing benefit from the forests.
For his part, VOSIEDA Program Manager, Abraham Billysaid, participants will be thought on how to use GPS and simple monitoring tracking sheet to monitor the forest as well as the application ofthe 10 principles in Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM).
Among others, he said, the training also focuses on the calculation of cubic meter intended to help communities get their just benefit from cubic meter fees under the Social Agreement (SA) signed between the community and company.
The European Union non-state actors’ project under the FLEGT-VPA REDD+ Process is intended to buttress local level capacity in the proper management of forest activities for the benefit of communities.
Targeted community groups include, Members of the NGO Coalition, the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitor (CS-IFM), the National Union of Community Forest Development Committee (NUCFDC), and the Community Forest Monitoring Body (CFMB), Timber and Chainsaw Union, and Women and Youth Organizations.
It is being realized that, lack of effective monitoring of concession activities is leading to the continuous degradation of Liberia’s forest due to illegal logging, charcoal burning, chainsaw milling, and upland agricultural production among others.
Also, society, particularly the affected communities continue to suffer significant benefits loss from forest resources, which has provoked the EU, Tropenbos International, FDA-Government of Liberia, VOSIEDA and other development partners working in the forestry sector to train community members on how to monitor the forest and advocate for themselves.