Forestry Committee in Lofa Completes Five New Projects from Logging Funds
Ganglota, Lofa County – A committee that represents the interest of 10 communties in Salayea and Zorzor Districts in Lofa in a logging contract with Alpha Logging Company has completed five new projects from funds provided by the company.
The projects include two guesthouses, a teachers’ lodge, a market hall and a zinc project targeting vulnerable residents of the 10 communities in the two districts affected by that logging contract. The Five projects cost US$129,373.85, according to the committee.
The five new projects make it eight major projects done by the Community Forestry Development Committee (CFDC) from the Forestry Management Contract with Alpha Logging Company (FMC “A”) since the agreement was signed in 2009.
Communities’ right to forestlands and benefits from forest resources is a pillar of the forestry reform process that began in 2005. The National Forestry Reform Law of 2006 mandates logging companies pay communities directly cubic meter fees, and land rental fee via the National Community Benefit Trust Board with the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).
The funds used for the projects here were land rental fees, while the previous projects were cubic meter fees used to fund smaller projects such as teachers’ assistance, scholarship and hand pumps, according to Andrew Zelemen, the public relations officer for the CFDC.
Zelemen added that Alpha has also carried out several projects from the social agreement it signed with the communities both in 2009 and 2014. The law requires that the company and the communities sign a social agreement after every five years. The FMC between the two lasts for 25 years, accordingly.
At a dedicatory ceremony of the teachers’ lodge in Ganglota on recently—one of the 10 affected communities—Augustus Kwalah, chairman of the committee said all the projects projects were being managed by the CFDC.
Also making remarks, Willie Mawonleleh, the chairman of the devleopment association of Gbalian Clan, the community with the largest portion of the forest contracted to Alpha Logging Company, asked the communities to maintain the projects. “It is not the government’s property. It is your resources,” he said.
Hasipha Tarpeh, Alpha Logging’s Administrator said the company was providing roughly 200 jobs annually to residents in and around Lofa County.
“I can assure you Alpha Logging Company will be here. This is just the beginning. We can gurantee the fact that there will always be a cordial working relationship between the leadership of the communities represented by the CFDC.”
Chief Lorpu N. Gbamah of Kpayaqelleh Town in Salayea District praised the logging company for the projects. “If they were not a good company, all the praises you heard here today, you were not going to hear them,” she told the dedicatory ceremony.
Paramount Chief Ma Tomah Sayon of Salayea District—Lofa’s first female paramount chief—said the people of Lofa were pleased with the work of the company.
Ben Gorlama, the District Commissioner of Salayea District urged farmers in the region to adopt to new methods of sustainable farming practices. He said too many emphasis was placed on logging companies, while farmers continued traditional, destructive methods of farming that destroys the forest.
“If we want to see my good things, we should protect the forest. Loggers cut down big trees but the farmers go deep in the forest and set it on fire,” Commissioner Gorlama said.
Borbor Bornguoi, a representative of the office of the Superintendent of Lofa County, urged Alpha to construct concrete bridges in the affected communities, not log bridges that are not sustainable.
Apart from Ganglota and Kpayaqelleh, the other affected communities are Gorlu, Gbonyea, Beyan Kpatayea, Barkolleh, Gbaquata and Kpowansanyea. Fassawalazu is the only community of the 10 in the Zorzor District.