Monrovia — As part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of Non-State Actors (NSAs) in forest governance, the Volunteers to Support International Efforts in Developing Africa (VOSIEDA) through the Civil Society Independent Forest Monitors (CS-IFM) will on next week commence a one-month rigorous training in forest monitoring for community members.
The training, which is funded by the European Union, is expected to enhance the skills and knowledge of members of Community Forest Management Body (CFMB), Community Forest Development Committee (CFDC), and Civil Society Organizations (CSO - Women and Youth Groups) in forested counties of Lofa, Gbarpolu and Sinoe counties.
The purpose of the training is to ensure illegal activities in the forest are documented and mitigated, and capacity of community forest structures and other NSAs are enhanced in forest monitoring, as well as increases community participation in forest governance.
The training is expected to empower Community Forest Monitors (CFMs) on how to assess and use factual and reliable information from the forests.
The training focuses on the application of 10 principles in Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM), the application of simple tracking sheet and GPS mapping, and the laws and regulations on forest governance to increase transparency and accountability.
Effective monitoring of concessions (covering about 60% of Liberia's forest) could reduce degradation of Liberia's forest.
Training community members to monitor activities in their forests could see drastic reduction in illegal logging activities and noncompliance to social agreement, and increase revenue from forest resources.
The training is part of several reforms under the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). VPA is a legally binding trade agreement between the EU and timber-exporting countries outside the EU. The VPA aims to ensure that all timber and timber products destined for the EU market from a partner country comply with the laws of that country.
Liberia is one of six tropical countries that have ratified and is implementing VPAs and is now developing systems to control, verify and license legal timbers. The parties agreed to include Independent Forest Monitoring by Liberian civil society Organizations. In addition, the National Forestry Reform Law (Section 18.15) provides for broad public access to information relative to forestry.