The Liberia Land Authority (LLA) and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) have executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to collaborate and define the scope of land formalization for customary lands adjoining protected areas (PAs) and Proposed Protected Areas (PPA) across Liberia.
Prior to the enactment of the Land Rights Acts (LRA) in 2018, the issue of land tenure across these forest landscapes was unclarified, as ownership of forests was only granted to communities by the government through the Community Rights Law with Respect to Forests Land (CRL) in 2009.
The Land Rights Act (LRA), recognizes proposed protected areas, and protected areas existing before its enactment and are generally considered Government Land.
However, the existence of PPA adjoining communities whose land area hasn’t been defined/formalized and communities within and or surrounding the PPAs presented challenges on methods and approaches for land formalization within these landscapes.
This MOU, after months of discussions between the two entities, clarifies the basis on how the formalization of land will be carried out around PAs and PPAs, defines the scope of collaboration between LLA and FDA, and establishes a mechanism for facilitating and funding land formalization within these forest landscapes.
Given the established mechanism, customary community land ownership within and surrounding or adjoining PAs and PPAs will be formalized. The MOU captures the goal of “Power to the People” as envisaged in the Government development framework or Pro-Poor Agenda.
During the signing ceremony at a local hotel, the FDA Managing Director, Mr. C. Mike Doryen expressed excitement about the increased collaboration between the FDA and LLA. He extolled the Chairman of the LLA for putting the interest of the community high and agreeing to collaborate towards the protection of Liberia’s forest resources and rich biodiversity which are already under severe threat.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the LLA, Atty. J. Adams Manobah, Sr., expressed delight in being able to work collaboratively with the FDA to protect Liberia’s natural resources while at the same time ensuring that adjoining communities are not negatively impacted. “This is a win-win situation for everyone and we must demonstrate that conservation does not mean negative impacts on the host community,” he concluded.
The Government of Liberia, through the FDA, has previously set aside tracts of forest for the purpose of sustainably managing forest resources and conserving biodiversity. These tracts of forest land, when enacted by law or a decree, as in the past, are considered protected areas, thereby prohibiting certain counter-positive conservation activities relating to hunting, farming, logging, mining, etc. Also, in the past, to demonstrate its willingness to subsequently protect a tract of forest, the Government designated a few areas of forest landscapes as National Forests, which later were transformed into Proposed Protected Areas (PPA).
Formalization of community land ownership is one of the target benefits to the Government and the customary communities. Boundary disputes or conflicts will be drastically minimized, if not eliminated, thereby ensuring sustainable peace, security, social cohesion, economic empowerment and the realization of Power to the People under the Government’s Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD).