TBI in Liberia supported from 2017-2020 non state actors to engage and advocate on forest and land governance issues important to themworks for the preservation of ecosystems and improved livelihood conditions for rural communities in the Sinoe County – eastern Liberia.
Liberia hosts the largest remaining blocks of the Upper Guinea Forest of West Africa. Since the 1970s, Liberia has relied on industrial logging for export as the primary model for economic activities in the forestry sector up to the present while rural population on the other hand relies significantly on forest and forest resources for subsistence and income generation. The Sinoe County has a high portion of Liberia’s forest and land resources with relatively low population density. Industrial logging and oil palm plantations are major economic drivers but also a source of conflict, especially with communities who depend on the forest resources for their livelihoods.
Industrial logging has been a source of tension and sometimes conflict between forest dwelling communities, the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), and logging companies. These conflicts have mostly focused on issues such as marginalization in policy formulation and other decision-making processes and limited benefits from logging to communities.
Since 2006, the government has allocated or renewed agreements for oil palm covering about 1 million hectares, including communities’ customary lands. The expansion of oil palm is a threat and source of conflicts between communities and oil palm companies due to the lack of respect for customary land rights and failure to adequately consult or secure community consent. And not the less a threat to food security and access to livelihoods due to forest conversion.
There is a need to improve the national policy process regarding forests. TBI identified the Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) as an important tool to inform the national policy debate and improve the practices regarding forests. As IFM reinforces real-time participation of a variety of non-state actors and it functions as a watch-dog by producing real-time evidence of what actually happens “on-the-ground”.
What we did:
- Increase the capacity of communities to resist destructive oil palm expansion and logging;
- Increase the respect and recognition of tenure rights of local communities by government and concessionaires;
- Increase adherence to the full implementation of policies and laws in forest and land management;
- Enhance the capacity of non-state actors to monitor, advocate and engage with State Actors in forest and land governance processes;
- Support coalitions of CSOs to effectively advocate on issues important to them and pursue change through evidence-based advocacy and engagement.