25 March 2019

Liberia: FDA Celebrates International Day of the Forests

Authorities of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in collaboration with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the West African Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and the World Bank on March 20-21, 2019 celebrated the International Day of the Forests (IDF).

The ceremonies educated the public on the importance of protecting the forest sector.

The IDF celebration, which was held in Gbarnga, Bong County brought together students, community leaders, representatives of civil society organizations and international partners. It was hosted under the theme, "Creating Education for Sustainable Forest Management."

This year's team fits within the context that all people are to be educated on the importance of trees and forests as more than half of the country's population live in the cities, and are increasingly disconnected from nature.

The event was characterized by essay competitions, debates, cultural performances, parade and honoring of key contributors to the country's forestry sector.

It served as a platform to call on government, business entities, civil society and stakeholders to collectively adopt and implement holistic policies and practices to protect, restore and sustain healthy forest as a central point in addressing climate change.

FDA Board Chairman, Harrison Karnwea, said the forest plays an important role in early warning to climate change; therefore, he challenged each of the participants to play their respective roles to preserve the environment.

Karnwea said rubber, which has been one of the major drivers of deforestation, can also play an important role in conserving the forest, because rubber farms are part of forest that can be more protective if they inter-crop with comparable cocoa and coffee trees.

He said if rubber is inter-crops with cocoa and coffee, it becomes more profitable and reduces more competition for land and increases farmer profitability, adding that during the time when the rubber is not producing latex, the farmer can harvest the cocoa and coffee.

Mr. Karnwea said the FDA and partners will be contributing to conserving the forest, "because in the past, rubber wood was used for coal but, nowadays, it has been used to make furniture, and can be exported to other countries to generate revenue.

He added, "let us preserve our forest so that we can always experience a rainfall. The Mount Coffee [hydro] will not run dry, because if it runs dry, we will have to revert to the use of fuel, which also produces green-house gas."

Mr. Karnwea meanwhile encouraged farmers to start looking at the new way to protect the forest instead of cutting down the trees to plant rubber; they should replant the existing low yielding clones with productive high yielding clones inter-cropped.

Earlier, former FDA managing director, John T. Woods, in a key note address, said the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RSE/67/22, declaring March 21 of each year to be observed as the IDF to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forest to the people globally, adding that, since 2012, Liberia as a member of the UN has celebrated this day.

Woods said since 1999, the country's forest has covered two-thirds of the remaining forest in the upper Guinea region, to include Togo.

He said Liberia's forests, as research has shown, is the largest in the Mano River Basin and one of great biodiversity; a home to approximately 42 percent of the remaining upper Guinea forest ecosystem.

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