Liberia Forest Media Watch Outlines Menaces Hampering the Forest Sector
Monrovia – Moses R. Quollin, the National Coordinator of the Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW) is calling stakeholders in the forest sector to find a way to alleviate some of the menaces that are hampering the growth and development of the sector.
Giving LFMW’s progress report at the 2nd Meeting with editors and senior reporters the National Coordinator of the group outlined the many challenges faced by the forest sector.
“The Liberian forest sector is replete with huge challenges. Paramount among them is illegal logging, noncompliance to social obligations, corruption by community leadership, political interference and lack of information,” Quollin disclosed.
He added: “The government is accused of failing to distribute royalties to communities amounting to 16 million. In the midst of this, the Liberian government recently disbursed US30, 000 to each of the 73 Legislators for legislative support project, while communities struggle to get US5.5 million owed them since 2019.”
According to the National Coordinator of LFMW, there are 47 singed Forest Management Agreement, out of which only 15 percent have little or no problems.
“This means that the remaining 85 percent of the forests under concession agreement is marred by serious controversy due to disagreements between the community and concessionaires on one hand and community to community on the other hand,” he said.
This, Quollin furthers that is in line with the World Bank and other reports. He added that there are 44 approved Community Forest Management Agreements (CFMA), covering 941,560 hectares.
“Community forest management structures are weak and mismanagement of funds is often a problem. In so doing, the effective implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to mitigate and or tackle the illegalities remains critical,” he asserted.
Quollin added: “There had been impressions of sound progress in VPA implementation, but as indicated by several reports including the World Bank (2019), things have taken a different turn, depicting that situation may even get worst. Therefore, the EUD project had been designed to help mitigate some of those challenges and ensure the effective implementation of the VPA process.”
The 15 month project the National Coordinator of LFMW said is to strengthening the capacity of the civil society for the implementation of the VPA.
Six Liberian CSOs are implementing the EUD. They are Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), Foundation for Community Initiative (FCI), Civil Society Independent Forest Monitor (CS-IFM), National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC), National Union of Community Forest Management Body (NUCFMB) and Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW).
According to Quollin, the beneficiary communities are, Bluyeama (Lofa), Ziadue and Tekpeh (Rivercess), Zuzohn (Grand Bassa), Beyan Poye (Margibi), Tarsue (Sinoe) and Salayea in Lofa.
In this partnership, LFMW is to increase access to information through its Forest Hour Radio program and investigate and publish short term investigative reports.