LIBERIA: FDA, VOSIEDA Groan Over Forestry Info -As Trapenbos, Others Get NRG Award

By: Moses R. Quollin +231770922412 / +231880922412 (Liberia Forest Media Watch)

L/R: FDA, DMDO Joseph J. Tally, AND photo 2. VOSIEDA’s Expert Paul Kanneh)

The Forest Development Authority in an apparent respond to series of critical issues raised on the Forest Hour, a weekly radio forest advocacy platform, is complaining about what she terms as misinformation characterized with national discussions about the forestry sector.

FDA deputy managing director for operation Joseph J. Tally, speaking at a local ceremony, Natural Resource Governance Award, made a sweeping statement against media personals covering the forestry sector as means of venting out his dismay against those critically spotlighting the sector amidst social and administrative wrongdoings, bad governance.

“I listen to lot of radios, talk-shows on the forestry sector…it is good to sometimes come to the FDA and get a proper understanding of what it means to work within the forestry sector so that you can’t just go with wrong judgments…but rather good judgment and sound decision. The forestry sector is a complete industrial discipline.” He noted in an apologetic tone.

The FDA operation boss statement did not down well with VOSIEDA, sponsor of the “Forest Hour” talk-show; something which prompted a respond from the institution’s Advocacy & Communication Expert Paul Kanneh.

Mr. Kanneh in return frowned on the FDA for being very lackadaisical in the disseminations of information regarding the forestry sector urging the FDA to be proactive in responding to media and CSOs enquiries as to avoid misinformation.

DMDO Joseph Tally’s comment followed days after the Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW) issued a press statement, her findings on the Tartweh Drapoh Community forest conflict and subsequent appearance on Okay FM’s Forest Hour.

LFMW, a conglomeration of independent and investigative like-minded journalists covering the forestry sector, trained by the Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA), has been critically following local developments within forested communities and publishing its stories and news articles.

In an effort to ensure sustainable forest governance, sources say to easily access pieces of information about the workings of the Forest Development Authority (FDA), a state of enterprise is like a misery experienced by information seekers mostly Civil Society Organizations and the media.

According to some partners, the FDA’s current leadership under C. Mike Doryen is less interested in educating the public about happenings within the forestry sector due to reasons unknown.

FDA’s poor communication strategy is to some extent hindering the entity’s performance and the works of local and international partners who consistently complaint about FDA’s inactive website, the lack of proper cooperation or coordination of necessary information, as well as disregard to media and public education.

Aired on Okay FM every Thursday at four in the afternoon, the ‘Forest Hour’ lightens public interest and educate listeners about Forest Management Contracts, Community Forest Management Agreements as well as challenging and issues within the Liberian Forestry Sector.

“Forest Hour” as initiated by VOSIEDA under the European Union Non-State Actor (EU-NSA) project, encourages forest communities to engage, monitor and advocate for their just benefits.

Followers mostly within forest communities across Liberia say the radio program is gradually raising their voices at national/international levels as callers on the phone-in segment usually expressed their disenchantments voicing out some illegalities within the respective communities.

“It has ignited nation-wide participation, dialogue on forest laws, policies, agreements and practices within the context of Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT)…thereby drawing attention to Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) and other conditions agreed to in the Volunteer Partnership Agreement (VPA) that was signed between the European Union and the Liberian Government to discourage illegal loggings and promote transparency and accountability.” VOSIEDA Advocacy & Communication Paul Kanneh told this institution.

At the same time, many followers, listeners of the radio program have expressed appreciation to the EU for sponsoring such a platform that draws stakeholders and the general public attentions to infractions in forested communities.

Sam Walker, Simeon Forkpa, Ma Lorpu Garman, Sampson Borteh, Ester Z. Peweu, Dominic Jarwolo, Daniel P. Tokpah are among few of those regular listeners and callers spoken to so far by the Liberia Forest Media Watch.

Meanwhile, VOSIEDA and Tropenbos International have been honored, awarded by the NGO Coalition of Liberia for their levels of works done within the Forestry sector of the country.

Tropenbos International, through VOSIEDA, is implementing the European Union Non-State Actor (EU-NSA) project which is meant to ensure forest communities engage, monitor and advocate for their just benefits.

“It has helped local and national level CSOs and forest structures to advocate for the implementation of social agreements and other loyalties,” VOSIEDA’s Planning and Program coordinator, Abraham Billy said after receiving the award on behalf of Tropenbos International in Monrovia.

The project, according to records independently verifying by the LFMW, has provided training in lobbying, advocacy, engagement, and independent forest monitoring for over 60 community members in Lofa, Gbarpolu and Sinoe Counties and members of CSOs working in the forestry sector.

“These trainings provided insight to members of Community Forest Management Bodies (CFMBs) and Community Forestry Development Committee (CFDCs) on the importance of evidence gathering and continuous engagement and negotiation on commitments by forest concessionaires.” A brief progress overview of the EU-NSA project recorded.

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