Bomi County – Khwima Nthara, World Bank Liberia Country Manager has broken grounds for the regional office of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) aimed at decentralizing and strengthening institutions.
He said the Bank is supporting civil works in protected areas and regional offices of FDA, and the Forest Training Institute which is located in Bomi, Tubmanburg.
The project is supporting construction of three regional FDA offices, as well as infrastructure in Protected Areas in the form of Ranger quarters and Park HQs in the Gola Protected Area (estimated at and potentially in Wologizi (once it is formally gazette as a Protected Area).
The project envisaged co-habiting staff of relevant agencies: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), FDA, and potentially Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) to enable teams to support the communities collaboratively and operate as single regional inter-agency teams for better efficiency and be cost effective.
Mr. Nthara said it is noteworthy that FDA and EPA have recognized this need for co-location and will set an example that others can emulate.
The World Bank has been supporting Liberia’s Forest Sector through the Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP) through a grant funding of US$36.7 million provided by the Government of Norway and an additional grant of US$4.7 million from the Liberia Forest Landscape Single Donor Trust Fund.
The objective of the LFSP is to improve management of forest and increase benefit sharing for communities in targeted landscapes. It also supports Liberia’s readiness and, impact, implementation of Reducing, Emission from Deforestation and Forest, Degradation (REDD+) to mitigate climate change.
Liberia’s forests are recognized globally for their high biodiversity value.
“They are the only remaining prime natural forests in the West Africa eco-region. Neighboring countries (Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast) have lost significant forest cover to land use changes,” He said.
According to him the Government of Norway recognized the need to support Liberia in its efforts for sustainably managing the forest resource for global (climate resilience) and national benefits (increase contribution of sector to national economy) adding that Liberia signed a Letter of Intent with Norway in September 2014.
The Liberia Forest Sector Project (LSFP) was borne out of this agreement.
He said various aspects being supported through the Liberia Forest Sector Project include community forestry and protected areas management, institutional strengthening of relevant agencies (Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Forestry Development Authority (FDA), and ministries of Agriculture and Mines and Energy thus far.
“It is good to note that the first training of FDA field staff has already started with the Bank’s support to the Forest Training Institute and we look forward to seeing more training activities,” he said.
Nthara further stated that the World Bank and the Government of Norway have provided the opportunity to the Government of Liberia, and we are glad to see progress.
“We look forward to seeing that transformational changes will be followed through soon, so the sector can holistically contribute to the national economy and move towards sustainable management of the country’s forests, given that deforestation rates in the country are on a rising trend. The Bank’s team is here to support the FDA and relevant agencies,” He added.
C. Mike Doryen, Managing Director FDA applauded World Bank and Norway for the project adding that nothing will be done to undermine the intent of the project.
Ruth Varney, Regional Forester, FDA and Mr. Saah David, National REDD+ Coordinator (LFSP) were in attendance.