A European Union Funded project, non-state actors project implemented by the Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA) has concluded training in community forest monitoring in Bopolu for CFDCs in Gbarpolu and Bong counties with call on participants to go beyond mere allegation to the gathering of facts based information.
More than 20 persons representing various Community Forest Management Development Committees (CFMDCs), and youth and women groups from Gbarpolu and Bong Counties attended the training session.
The training is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of NSAs in forest governance, with funding support from the European Union (EU). The training ran from July 17-19, 2018, and was held in Bopolu City.
The primary objective of the training is to ensure documentation of illegal activities and mitigate potential challenges in accessing benefit from the forests using GPS mapping, application of the 10 principles in Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM), and simple tracking sheet.
Among others, the training also focused on the calculation of cubic meter, wherein community members can have knowledge of the full amount they deserve from cubic meter fees under the Social Agreement (SA) signed between the community and company.
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) served as facilitators of the training workshop.
In an opening remarks, VOSIEDA Program Manager Abraham Billy urged participants to pay keen attention to the training. He stressed the need for participants to engage in evidence based gathering in building up case against concession companies operating in their areas.
“Training community members to monitor activities in their forests could see drastic reduction in illegal logging activities and noncompliance to social agreement, and increase revenue from forest resources”, said Abraham Billy.
Mr. Billy told participants that, as Ambassadors, they are under obligation to share whatever knowledge acquired from the training with others as a means of increasing community participation.
At the close of the 3 day workshop, participants were urged to handle information gathered through monitoring with confidentiality much to the satisfaction of the community and company.
Meanwhile, women representatives from CFMD, youth and women groups who attended the workshop have call for increased in women participation in forest governance. The Spokesperson of the women NyenkoiBallah described the ratio of men to women at the level of the community forest management as discouraging, noting, women and children are the ones that suffer grater pains associated with bad governance in forest management.
“We are the ones that cut fire wood and spend more times on the farm. So we suffer more when the forests are destroyed by companies. So we want one more knowledge and participation at the level of our community”, Madam Ballah pleaded.
She added that giving women equal opportunity in decision making in the forest sector will add value to ongoing efforts aimed at transforming the forest sector that will benefit the country and contractor.
The Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA) is a Liberian civil society organization working to promote sustainable management of natural resources in Liberia. VOSIEDA is currently building capacity of non-state actors in forest governance, and is working with the government, the European Union and other international organizations for sustainable forest management in Liberia.