Since its initiation in 2009, the Making the Forest Sector Transparent project in Liberia has worked to increase access to information, facilitate stakeholder engagement and support independent verification of forest activities. Progress has been made, but the project has also encountered several critical challenges. In particular, the Government of Liberia has not fully met its legal obligations to improve transparency and accountability due to a lack of institutional capacity and a lack of political will. There are risks that the status quo of resource extraction by logging companies could continue to dominate with little recognition of community rights, little oversight and little benefit sharing.
The forest sector reform process is now at a crucial stage. Going forward, key lessons learnt from advocacy work in Making the Forest Sector Transparent include the importance of:
- Implementing an information management strategy with the necessary resources and commitment to progressively improve the publication of key documents and data and make them available through different channels.
- Strengthening a coalition of stakeholders throughout the different tiers of government, civil society and private sector who will take forward implementation of forest sector reforms.
- Formalising and implementing community rights to forests so that local people are able to support rural livelihoods and control access and use of their resources.
- Supporting capacity building of authorities to ensure that they consistently apply due processes for forest allocation, collect and distribute fees from logging companies, and enforce the rule of law.
- Building the capacity of Community Forestry Development Committees, civil society and rural communities to participate in forest sector decision-making, develop local projects and hold authorities to account.
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