(Paynesville, July 4, 2022)…The leadership of the National Union of Community Forest Management Body (NUCFMB) and the Heritage Partners & Associate (HPA), along ClientEarth and local representatives of the National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC), on Monday, July 4, 2022 met to review the draft Small Scale Commercial Use Contract (SSCUC). The review session took place at Golden Key Hotel in Paynesville, outside Monrovia. The Multi Stakeholder Forest Governance and Accountability Project (MFGAP) sponsored the review workshop under the framework of the Legal Working Group Meeting.
The draft small scale Commercial Use Contract (CUC) template proposes 5000 hectares of forest land as maximum logging contract areas to be awarded for concession purpose. When approved, the SSCUC will be interpreted in line with the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006, the Community Rights Law of 2009 and the Chainsaw Milling Regulation of 2022.
The National Facilitator of the NUCFMB, Bonathan Walaka have termed the Small-scale CUC as a progressive law, intended to enhance ongoing reforms in the forestry sector for sustainable logging activities for community with lesser forest land. “We think this small scale CUC template is a major milestone achievement for communities with lesser forest land, which is considered as equal opportunity for all in terms of benefits from community forest management agreement (CFMA)”, Bonathan said.
Like the large scale CUC, the SSCUC puts the land rental fees at US$1.25 per hectare of the contract area, payable annually in advance. Of the total amount of land rental fees, 55% shall be paid by the logger directly to community through CFMB.
HPA’s lawyer, Cllr. J. Awia Vankan said the SSCUC came about because in the past, communities negotiated contracts that were not beneficial to them, noting, most of the provisions were loosely drafted and to a large extent unenforceable. “Against this backdrop, the project came about to draft a template that community can use to negotiate contracts, and that under this particular project, we are focused on drafting a template for community with lesser forest area not more than 5000 hectares”, Cllr. Vankan noted.
He said the SSCUC is different from the large scale CUC because it allows chainsaw milling activities, and considers lesser obligation on companies/communities due to the less area they have to operate. According to the HPA’s lawyer, the SSCUC is intended to puts at par with companies when negotiating contract for community forest.
Cllr. Vankan disclosed that the community through the NUCFMB has been much involved with the drafting of the SSCUC, adding that they provided inputs based on their experiences with past contracts, and also made suggestions for improvement on the template.