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EU-Liberia meet over forest management agreement

EU Ambassador NDEU Ambassador Tina Intelmann says good forest governance and law enforcement are critical to the success of efforts to halt deforestation and forest degradation.

Speaking during the second meeting between officials of the Liberia government and their European counterparts over the enforcement of the Forest Governance and Trade Voluntary Partnership Friday, the EU envoy said the FLEGT Voluntary Partnership Agreement between the EU and Liberia can make an important contribution to the parties joint efforts to tackle climate change.

She said deforestation and land use change are the main source of Greenhouse gas emissions in Liberia, adding that ”2015 is a crucial year for the global community and our planet: a series of international conferences with agree on Financing for Development, sustainable development and climate change goals for the next 15 years. 

The meeting which was the second formal of such kind by the Joint Implementation Committee (JIC) of the Liberia-EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) took place at the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Monrovia.

It was co-chaired by the Chair of the Forest Development Authority’s Board of Directors, Sister Mary Laurene Brown, and the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Liberia, Tiina Intelmann, in presence of other distinguished guests and observers including Managing Director of the FDA, Harrison Karnwea, European Commission, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID), Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Justice, Liberia Revenue Authority, civil society, private sector and key development partners.

Also speaking during the meeting Mr. Karnwea said the Liberian forestry sector need “A well trained, equipped and operational Forest Development Authority to sustainably manage the forest resource, to generate revenue from timber and non-timber resources and ecosystem services.

He said this could see legally produced timber and finished and semi-finished timber products, while maintaining 30% of Liberia´s forests under conservation status, especially in the Sapo-Tai biodiversity corridor.

He said it would also see improvement in the agricultural sector in collaboration with partners to reduce its impact on forests. Halting the expansion of the savannah in the north of Liberia. Transforming FDA into a self-sustaining institution, he said is a catalyst of national development that takes over the services currently provided by SGS and other partners in the end of the VPA implementation process.

The objective of the meeting was to jointly review the implementation of the Liberia-EU VPA Agreement, take stock of the effects of Ebola on activities and agree on the priorities for the 2015. The VPA aims to put in place systems to ensure the legality of Liberia’s timber production and to strengthen forest sector governance. This process, expected to last for several years, will promote legal forestry, leading to more sustainable forest management, increased long term revenues for communities and the Government, investment and job creation. The EU has similar agreements with Ghana, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Indonesia, the Central African Republic and is negotiating with 9 other countries.

Among the issues discussed at the meeting were the key milestones in the development of the timber legality assurance system, further reinforcement of the legal framework and law enforcement as well as recent developments and challenges in the sector, including community forestry management agreements and transfer of timber revenues to communities. Both Liberia and the EU were happy to acknowledge that the ebola crisis has not derailed the VPA process, although it has generated significant delays.

They were pleased to see that all stakeholders and support projects have fully remobilized. A hope was expressed that the VPA implementation quickly returns to full speed and that some lost time could even be caught up. Participants also discussed the synergies between the VPA process and the Liberia-Norway letter of intent on “Cooperation on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and developing Liberia’s agriculture sector”. Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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