FAO Gives Over US$100K to Community Group to Reduce Logging

Madam Mariatou Njie, wearing a mask, speaks at the signing ceremony on Monday at the UN headquarters in Sinkor. FrontPage Africa

MONROVIA – The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has provided US$101,645 to the Benefit Sharing Trust Board of Liberia. The board, which controls funds from logging concessions for communities, has had no funding to carry out its work in the last three years.

“We are happy to be here to witness the signing of this very important project, activity to ensure that in Liberia logging will be reduced and eventually eliminated,” Madam Mariatou Njie, FAO’s country representative, said on Monday at a ceremony at the UN headquarters in Sinkor.

Under the National Forestry Reform Law of 2006, logging companies must pay 30 percent of land rental fees to communities. The board collects, manages the funds for community forest development committees (CFDCs)—the group that represents communities’ interest in large forest concessions—and makes sure they meet their intended purposes. The board is entitled to five percent of that money for its operational costs and field activities, including community awareness.  

But it has not received any payment from the Government of Liberia since 2018, preventing it from carrying out its functions. Communities in September petitioned the National Legislature over the delayed payment, which has yet to be paid.

“This project strengthens the capacity of the Benefit Sharing Trust Board to really help get us back on our footing to be able to go back into the communities to monitor projects, to get the worth of the money that has been sent to the communities,” said Mathew Wally, the vice chairman of the board said. “We have some challenges and we have been asking partners to be helping us.”  

The board was formed in 2009 and started active work in 2015. It has received and disbursed to communities more than US$2 million since then.

The project is “Strengthening the Capacity of the National Benefit Sharing Trust Board (NBSTB) to effectively monitor and evaluate projects awarded to Affected Communities.” The money for the project was donated by the European Union as part of its Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) program that meant to reduce illegal logging through ssustainable and legal forest management, improving governance and promoting trade in legally produced timbers.