[Liberia] Forested communities trained in community forest monitoring
Over 60 people in forested communities in Lofa, Gbarpolu and Sinoe counties in Liberia have received training in Community Forest Monitoring (CFM).
The training has empowered community members to document illegal logging activities, monitor social agreements’ implementation signed between communities and companies and resolve and mitigate potential challenges in accessing benefit from the forests-using forest monitoring tools.
Beneficiaries were drawn from cross section of Community Forest Management Bodies (CFMBs), Community Forest Development Committees (CFDCs), and CSOs including youth and women groups.
The communities are now able to use forest monitoring tools, such as: social audit, simple independent forest monitoring (IFM) tracking sheet, ten monitoring principles, cubic meter fees calculation techniques, application of GPS in forest and land demarcation and mapping to minimize boundary conflict, and forest laws and regulations among others.
The training also served as eye opener for many Non-state Actors in forested communities in Liberia to several reforms under the Volunteer Partnership Agreement (VPA), which is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and Liberia to ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU market comply with the Liberian laws.
Following the training, communities are expected to effectively monitor concessionaires and concessions to reduce if not end rampant corruption, illegal logging, charcoal burning, chainsaw milling, and upland agricultural production in primary forests.
This is because, lack of effective monitoring of concessions activities, particularly in the forested communities has often led to significant benefits loss from forest resources thereby undermining community interest for better living condition.
It has also resulted to disenchantment on the part of community members-thus leading to the destruction of millions of investments and loss of lives in some instances.
While the community forest monitoring training remains cardinal to communities, the ratio between male and female participants at the level of CFMBs, CFDCs, youth and women group shows great disparity. Women’s participation is not only low, they are also the worst victims of deforestation due to bad concessions.
In most instances, they feel the excruciating perils associated with almost everything relating to poor forest management.
At the close of the exercise, participants hailed the EU and its partners for broadening their minds in forest governance, but expressed regrets for the many loses communities have incurred due to bad concessions.
The training was developed under the framework of the project “Strengthening the capacity of non-state actors to improve FLEGT-VPA and REDD+ processes in Western Africa” financed by the European Union and implemented by Tropenbos International and VOSIEDA in Liberia. The training was carried out in partnership with the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors (CS-IFM).