Liberia: FDA/LFSP, PADEV Strengthen Forest Governance; Facilitate Formation of 20-Community Forest Organizing Committees

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MONROVIA – Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA), through its Community Forestry Department (CFD) has successfully supported the formation of 20-Community Forest Organizing Committees (CFOCs) in six designated counties in rural Liberia. The exercises were facilitated by Partners in Development (PADEV), a Liberian NGO hired by FDA to provide technical facilitation support. The activities were conducted late 2020 in the northwest and southeastern priority forest landscapes.

The feat was achieved through FDA’s Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP), with funding from the Government of Norway through the World Bank and with the collaborative efforts of PADEV.

Community Forest Organizing Committees are elected interim forest governance entities that act on behalf of applicant communities seeking Authorized Forest (AFC) status. Their roles end once applicant communities have attained all the legal requirements prescribed in the Community Rights Law(CRL) and its amended regulation and are granted AFC status.

In the northwest priority forest landscape, three CFOCs were organized; with one set up in Tarkpoima applicant community, Gbarpolu County; and two in Grand Cape Mount County where one each was set up in Gbama-Lumei and Mano-Gleh applicant communities.

In the southeastern priority forest landscape, 17-CFOCs were organized in applicant communities in Grand Gedeh, Rivergee, Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties. Across these counties, elections for five CFOCs were facilitated in B’Hai, Duo, Dugbeh, Kanneh and Tchien Manyeah CFs in Grand Gedeh County. In similar manner, elections were held for three CFOCs in Deabo & Nyenebo, Glarro including River Gbeh &Kiteabo CFs in Rivergee County. In Sinoe County, seven CFOCs were organized where one each was set up in Lower&Central Wedjah, Dweoh Jaedae, Sewalah, Bokon Jaedae, Fanjay, Central River Dugbeh and Geetroh CFs. In Grand Kru County, elections for two CFOCs were also facilitated in Bolloh and Lower Jloh CFs.

The structure of a CFOC comprises 6-officials with each person serving defined roles in positions that include a chairperson, secretary, representatives of youth, women, livelihood and enterprise development and an advisor. The 20-forest dependent communities that benefited from this intervention are all applicant communities and are currently working with FDA and partners to acquire their AFC status.

“ I am profoundly pleased with the level of work we have done with the support of PADEV in these communities. It is my hope that we will build upon what we have accomplished together to increase technical support to other communities that need this quality of service”, Gertrude Korvayan Nyaley, Technical Manager of the CFD, FDA, noted in a recent meeting with technical staff of FDA, LFSP and PADEV.

Liberia still maintains about 40% of the remaining upper Guinea forest. Notwithstanding, the integrity of Liberia’s forests is being undermined by unregulated human activities such as artisanal mining, shifting cultivation, chainsaw logging, poaching and other competing activities. FDA recognizes the impact these activities bear on deforestation and their corresponding effects on climate change.

In this regard, FDA, with funding from the LFSP began raising awareness, with technical facilitation of PADEV, since July 2019 in over 30-CF communities in six designated counties in the northwest and southeastern region of Liberia. These activities have primarily focused on building community understanding about the value of the forest as a resource, including the services it provides, and communicating messages about options available for economically productive and environmentally sustainable livelihood activities which communities can do to generate income and improve their lots.

Prior to setting up these interim bodies, awareness campaigns were conducted in all the target communities, educating an estimated 157k community residents in both regions about the roles and responsibilities of the interim bodies, Community Assembly (CA), Executive Committee (EC) and the Community Forest Management Body ( CFMB).

Nobeh, Jackson, PADEV Team Leader informed a technical team meeting in early January that plans were underway to formally introduce the interim community forest leaders to local officials at organized public events in their respective constituents.

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