2 posts

Liberia: NUCFDC Ends Regional Dialogue On Forest Sector Law in Maryland County

The National Union of Community Forestry Development Committee (NUCFDC) last week held a one day dialogue with members aimed at boosting the committee’s awareness of their role and responsibilities of the Community Forestry Development Society (CFDCS).

The dialogue brought together community forestry management bodies, district commissioners and statutory district superintendents of forest affected communities in River Gee, Grand Kru, and Maryland Counties.

Mr.Andrew Y.Y.Zelemen head of the NUCFDC Secretariat and National facilitator told reporters that the dialogue was intended to provide more awareness on the role and responsibilities of the CFDCS, local authorities, youth and women groups on the social agreement negotiation.

Client Earth, Heritage Partners and Associates (HPA) along with other civil society organizations have been providing training for committee forestry management on community forestry reforms law to improve and promote sustainable forestry management across Liberia.

Mr. Zelemen explained that the NUCFDC and other organizations have benefited from most of the capacity building program conducted by Client Earth, particularly in providing the social agreement guide for CFDCS and CFMBS.

The dialogue also highlighted some major up conning activities in 2020 including election, CFDS renegotiation of social agreement within the participating counties and the submission of comprehensive financial reports covering the three countries-River Gee, Grand Kru, and Maryland.

According to Mr.Zelemen, since 2015, over 60 community development projects have been implemented by CFDCS across Liberia while 30% of the annual land rental refused in the forest community.


Community forest rights: What are the conditions for success?

When working on community forest rights, we need to look beyond the formalization of these rights and also work on the enabling environment that allows the community to benefit from their forest resources. This was the key message of a session titled “Community forest rights: What are the key conditions for success?”, organized by Tropenbos International and ClientEarth, during the 2019 LANDac Conference in Utrecht.

During the session three speakers, Lucia Gbala, Partner at Heritage Partners & Associates (HPA), Freddie Siangulube, PhD candidate at the University of Amsterdam and Nathalie Faure, Law and Policy Advisor at ClientEarth, shared their experiences and lessons learned with community forest rights.

According to Lucia Gbala, communities in Liberia tend to have a limited understanding of the law, limiting their opportunities to benefit from legal frameworks that recognize community forest rights. HPA therefore works with ClientEarth to improve the legal skills of communities, for example to negotiate contracts with timber companies for the commercial use of their forest resources with fair benefit-sharing arrangements. Based on these experiences, Lucia stressed the importance of community legal empowerment, negotiation skills, and responsive resolution mechanisms.

Freddie Siangulube , explained that Zambia has a law that acknowledges community forest rights, but so far not a single community forest has been recognized. A pilot project revealed several obstacles, including a lack of clear boundaries, competing claims between communities and commercial actors, and conflicts between communities. According to Freddie there is a need for strengthened community governance, and an open dialogue about rights and ambitions.

Nathalie Faure presented the key messages of a recent study on legal frameworks for community forestry in Nepal, the Philippines and Tanzania. She highlighted the need for simple, clear and accessible laws, and regulations that provide structure, while also offering flexibility to adapt to the local context. When developing legal frameworks, specific attention should be paid to community participation in decision-making, access to markets and equitable benefit sharing, among others.

The following lessons from the session were highlighted by René Boot, director of Tropenbos International:

  • There is a need for community engagement, which requires community empowerment.
  • Good governance is key—within communities, landscapes and at higher political levels.
  • The process of formalizing rights needs to be flexible and inclusive.
  • To make community rights work for people and nature, there should be an enabling environment for communities to actually benefit from their resources and manage them sustainably.