MONROVIA, April 27, 2016 – The World Bank and the Government of Liberia today signed a US$36.7 million grant from the Government of Norway to support the country’s efforts to improve the integrated management of targeted forest landscapes and increase the sharing of benefits.
The Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) is the culmination of 10 years of World Bank engagement and is the first project signed under the Bank’s Forest Action Plan launched in April 2016. The project marks Liberia’s will to take informed risk in the forest sector to maximize its contribution to the country’s economy, poverty alleviation, job creation and growth. It will support the country’s transition from commercial management of forests to one that integrates conservation and community-driven management.
“This project is part of the country’s post-Ebola Economic and Recovery Plan and will help the country to ensure that its major natural resource is used to benefit the economy and the Liberian people,” said Inguna Dobraja, World Bank Country Manager for Liberia. “It will support the strengthening of relevant institutions, policies and capacities, and attract investments in the sustainable management and use of one of the largest contiguous forest blocks left in West Africa.”
The main beneficiaries of the LFSP are Liberian communities directly dependent on forest resources. The project includes ten of Liberia’s 15 counties – Bomi, Lofa, Gbarpulo, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Sinoe, Grand Kru, River Gee, Rivercess and Nimba counties.
“The Liberia Forest Sector Project is specifically aligned with the Agenda for Transformation’s pillar related to economic transformation and to environmental cross cutting issues,” said Amara Konneh, Finance and Development Planning Minister, Liberia. “The Agenda for Transformation recognizes that Liberia’s vast forest reserves will put the country in a position to benefit once the markets develop for community forestry products.”
Minister of Climate and Environment in Norway, Vidar Helgesen, emphasized, “the project will support Liberia on the path to a more sustainable management of its forests. We strongly believe this will be to the benefit of the rural population, the Liberian economy, the global climate and biodiversity.” The Minister added that, “Liberia has already taken bold steps in the right direction and we are proud to support the country through the transition.”
The LFSP will be implemented by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, ministries of Agriculture and Lands Mines and Energy, Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, and the proposed Liberia Land Authority once fully established in keeping with law.
“The project represents a paradigm shift in forest resource management as it includes using climate finance as a catalyst for forest conservation and continued carbon sequestration,” said Harrison Karnwea, Managing Director of Liberia’s FDA. “It will increase the sharing of benefits accrued and support small-scale and community-based enterprises based on the sustainable use of these resources.”
Liberia’s population is approximately 4.5 million, and it has faced difficulties in managing its 4.5 million hectares of lowland tropical forests for long-term, sustainable economic growth. During the coup and civil wars between 1980 and 2003, the timber economy played a significant role in the leaders’ desire and ability to control territory and as a means to conduct war. In 2003, the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions on Liberia to prohibit trade in roundwood and timber products, as the revenues were used to finance the country’s 14-year civil war. The lifting of UN sanctions in 2006 allowed the launch of an ambitious forests sector reform process.