Monrovia - The Peoples Rules and Organizations Supporting the Protection of Ecosystem Resources (USAID/PROSPER) in partnership with the Forestry Development Authority have signed a community forest management agreement in Monrovia.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Mission Director of USAID-Liberia, Antony Chan, said the agreement is meant to improve the management of forest, generate income and improve livelihoods in forest-dependent communities.
Chan thanked the Forestry Development Authority and the community forest management for their efforts in making the program successful.
He pledged the USAID continual support in working with the FDA and the community forest management team.
“USAID will continue to support the working of the FDA. The agreement signed today is meant to improve the management of forest, generate income and improve livelihoods in forest-dependent communities,” he said.
In 2012, USAID/PROSPER began working with eight forest dependent communities in Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties as part of a pilot on community forestry and alternative livelihoods.
Prior to the USAID/PROSPER’s engagement, the eight communities Sehyi, sehzueplay, kparblee, Boe-Quilla, Gbear-Glor, Kpogbleh and Barconnie-Harmonville were exploiting their forest resources at an unsustainable rate.
This was a result of ineffective coordination and poor forest management practices, but the situation has changed since the coming to USAID into the sector.
The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) and the eight forest dependent communities signed eight community Forest Management Agreements (CFMAs), aimed at entrusting ownership and management rights to the local communities.
In addition to the USAID PROSPER supported communities, the FDA also independently supported the establishment of two authorized forest communities, which signed CFMAs at a ceremony recently.
Beyan Poye and Garwin in the counties of Margibi and Rivercess brought to ten, the total number of CFMAs signed.
The signing of the agreements represents the formal recognition by the FDA of the Authorized Forest Community’s ownership over the area of forest resources, designated as Authorized Community Forests.
Further, it clearly creates a legally enforceable framework, based on provisions of the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006 (NFRL), the Ten Core Regulations, the Community Rights Law of 2009 with Respect to Forest Lands (CRL), the Amended CRL Regulation, and all other relevant laws and regulations.
Sehyi in Northern Nimba, Sehzueplay, Gbear-Gblor, Gblor, Kparblee and Boe-Quilla Communities in Tappita Statutory District including Kpogblen, District #4 and the Harmonville-Barconnie Communities in Grand Bassa reached the feat following nearly five years of intensive work in the practice and policy of community forestry.
USAID funding supported the implementation of community forestry activities in these communities under the watch of a community forestry project called People, Rules and organization Supporting the Protection of Ecosystem Resources (PROSPER).
Assuring continual support of the community forestry program at the recent CFMA signing ceremony Dr. Antony Chan, stated: “USAID support will continue for these communities through the FIFES activities.
It is going to build on the conservation and commercial aspect of forestry management and as it seeks to contribute to sustainable forest management by helping forest communities to generate income and improve their livelihood through conserving the forest resources.”
Except for a few, including those supported by USAID, forest dependent communities across Liberia exploit their forest resources at an unsustainable rate, due to ineffective coordination and poor forest management practices.
The signing of these agreements is a defining moment for Liberia’s forestry sector, which faces numerous challenges, including technical and logistical constraints.
Acting Managing Director of FDA, Kederick Johnson, at the program said the signing was part of the effort of the FDA, in partnership with USAID PROSPER and other government agencies, civil society organizations, and local communities, to develop innovative approaches to improve community management of forest lands covering more than 70,000 hectares, and increase the benefits communities derive from forest-based and agriculture enterprises in eleven forest-dependent communities.
“Many people did not believe that these things could ever happen. It is better to take long time to do it right than to shortcut the process. Let me thank the communities for their patience and our partners for their support,” Kederick Johnson said in a statement at the signing program.