Authorities of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), European Union (EU) and the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) have called on Liberians to consider the sustainable management of the Liberian forest to fight climate change and make economic progress.
It may be recalled that in 2012, the Liberian government and the EU entered negotiations through the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to monitor, keep surveillance and evaluate the Liberian timber products that are exported to the EU countries and elsewhere in the world.
These assertions were contained in statements made at the turnover ceremony of a refurbished office and forest equipment to FDA, held recently at the port city of Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
Dr. David Belgrove, UK Ambassador to Liberia, said since the inception of the Liberia Forest Reform initiative, the UK and EU have provided about 9,000,000 euros intended for governance, capacity building and some provisions for vital equipment to the FDA and other stakeholders in the forest sector of the country.
Belgrove then expressed the hope that the Liberian government would consider supporting the FDA and other agencies that are associated with the forest sector.
He assured the FDA and other partners that the UK will work to ensure that forest governance, capacity building and the Liberian forest products are sustained and managed to benefit all.
(From right) Mr. Tuagben of the FDA, Mrs. Sundblad (EU), Amb. Belgrove (UK) and other officials at the turnover ceremony
Amb. Belgrove pointed out that as Liberia increases the impact of her economy, the government must exert efforts to ensure that good governance of the forest, human rights, women empowerment and the fair share of the forest resources in forest affected communities are properly managed.
Amb. Belgrove added that the sustainable management of the Liberian forest would address the issue of poverty reduction.
He underscored the need for support to the "vulnerable population" of the country in a bid to ensure that jobs are created and that citizens have access to basic social services.
EU Charges d'affaires Mrs. Emma Sundblad reminded the gathering that the VPA signed between Liberia, the EU and other countries is a trade agreement and not a development initiative.
Mrs. Sundblad noted that the VPA agreement addresses three components of the FDA, which include commercial, community and conservation.
She, however, pointed out that sustainability of the Liberian forest remains key to the overall development of the country's forest sector.
Mrs. Sundblad called on the Liberian government and stakeholders in the forest sector to commit themselves to the management of the VPA.
The EU official also underscored the need for the government to support the FDA to ensure that the forest is managed so that resources generated would be used to benefit the country.
She said the EU has provided US$80 million in support of building the systems.
Mrs. Sundblad further disclosed that in 2011, the EU provided US$120 million to the FDA to strengthen forest governance, build human resource capacity and purchase equipment, which she said should be properly maintained.
FDA managing director Darlington Tuagben extended thanks to the entity's partners for the level of support to protect the country's forest.
Tuagben said the provision of the equipment at the cost of US$42,750 to the Region 3 FDA office in Buchanan would go a long way to strengthen work of law enforcement in the governance process of the Liberian forest.
"We are very grateful to all partners especially the EU and UK, who have called on the government to increase the FDA budget that could translate into the practical enforcement of the forest laws," Tuagben noted.
He urged members of the civil society organizations to go to all forest operations and monitor the logging activities. He assured them that there would be no interference in the monitoring work.
Mr. Tuagben meanwhile assured the EU and UK ambassadors that the equipment provided to the FDA for the Buchanan operation would be used for its intended purpose.