LFMW Outlines Progress, Challenges In 2021

Calls On Forest Stakeholders to Take Actions to Protect Liberian Forest

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By Mark N. Mengonfia mmenginfia@gmail.com

MONROVIA-The Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW) says they will be more forceful in the discharge of their forest monitoring and reporting this 2021.

Speaking at a forum  with editors and senior reporters before the close of 2021, the National Coordinator of LFMW Moses R. Quollin said during the period under review, they wrote and published for  short terms investigative stories bordering on gender, lawsuit, conflict and protest from forest communities about arrears owed them.

During the meeting, he highlighted a brief note detailing information about Plan by Bannah residents in Sinoe County to sue Atlantic Resources Company for non-compliance, threats from citizens of Murryville to terminate contract with Geebro logging company for failure to implement MOU and Geetroh Community’s objection to the establishment of a Proposed Krahn-Bassa Park was drafted and shared with project partners for further follow-up purpose.

“We organized our first forest media stakeholders’ forum and assigned our reporters in various forest communities across the country to conduct short term investigation” the National Coordinator of LFMW said.

Speaking additionally, Mr. Quollin said as an institution, they also participated in a training session on how to use the issues tracker air table, intended to capture highlights of forest issues as part of the Real Time Monitoring process.

“The reporting period also witnessed the drafting of agreement for forest hour production on Ok-fm 99.5” he added.

According to him, the Liberian forest sector is replete with huge challenges adding that paramount among them is illegal logging, noncompliance to social obligations, corruption by community leadership, political interference and lack of information.

It is in this direction that the group he is currently serving as a coordinator is ensuring that more information goes to the public to help save the forest of Liberia.

On a flashback, Quollin said 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.

He indicated that a Community Representative recently disclosed that there are 47 singed Forest Management Agreement (CFMA), out of which he said, only about 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.

He said that the EUD concept note says there are 44 approved Community Forest Management Agreements (CFMA), covering 941,560 hectares. Furthermore, 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 said.

According to him, there has 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” he said.

According to him, the 15 month project is intended to strengthen the capacity of the Civil Society for the implementation of the VPA.

To achieve this, he said six Liberian CSOs are implementing the EUD including the 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).

They are working in communities such as Bluyeama (Lofa), Ziadue & 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”

Additionally, the LFMW National Coordinator said LFMW joined forest dependent communities and CSOs to call for an early convening of the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) meeting in 2022 as it failed to have met in line with the agreed time last year.

He said, “As we enter the new year, it is our call that  stakeholders (FDA, EU, CSOs communities, and others ) in Liberia to take prompt actions to address all of the challenges we outlined to help protect the forest against depletion and at the same sustainably benefits communities.”

He is at the same time hoping that the JIC address the issues of these challenges, LFMW has raised through its activities the Forest Hour weekly radio program, short-term media reports, investigations, and publications funded by partners.

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