23 February 2006

Liberia: Forest Concession Awareness to Be Launched

The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) is expected to convene a national public awareness forum on the Forest Concession Review and Reform of Liberia in Monrovia. The program is scheduled to be held at the Young Men Christians Association (YMCA) on Crown Hill.

The Forum which will be held under the auspices of the Liberian Forest Initiative (LFI) will take place on Friday, February 24, 2006, while a pre-forum presentation for journalist is scheduled for Thursday February 23 at the compound of the institution.

According to a release, the objectives of the forum are to provide up-date on the status of the Liberian Forest Concession review and reform, with specific proposals on the table to solicit input; to present the report of the public outreach (phase-1), along with the Executive Summary of the Forest Concession review report, to a cross-section of the Liberian public.

It is also expected to solicit comments and recommendations for concession reform process and by extension sustainable forest management; and to increase the level of awareness within the media, amongst legislators from the forest regions, and other government representatives about forest sector reform, and the critical need for effective and long-term civil society engagement and partnership.

In its hand book "What The People Say" prepared for the enhancement of civil society awareness and engagement in forest concession review and reform, the SDI noted in its key findings that a total of 40 companies or forest operators were identified in the target areas and their operations discussed in depth.

They further stated that the discussion focused on all the companies that operated in regions since 1990, adding that in the seven locations of study, the community's stakeholders knew the names of the companies well and were in the most instances (86%) able to identify senior executives involved with the companies.

Out of 41 logging companies and their senior executives listed by these stakeholders, "only 6 companies were working in more than one area and in two instances the same names were raised in the capacity of different company names of the list, 15 of the senior executives identified are clearly Liberian nationals, 6 are unidentified and the balance of 24 are presumed to be foreigners", they maintained.

The SDI is an organization working to transform decision-making about natural resources in Liberia by promoting and enhancing the participation of civil society, especially local people, in these processes.

Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI) was founded in 2002 and was accredited by the Government of Liberia to operate as an NGO in 2004.

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