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Liberia : Indicators

2012 > 20 Key Indicators 2012 > Codified Forest Law and Supporting Norms

The legal framework for the forest sector in Liberia has been reformed since the end of the civil war. The main instruments include the National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL) 2006 and accompanying Ten Core Regulations 2007 and the Community Rights Law with Respect to Forest Lands Resources (CRL) 2009, which provide a potentially firm foundation for effective forest management. Copies of these laws and regulations can be downloaded from the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) website and copies obtained for a fee of $10 from its central office and Info Shop in Monrovia, however at the time of this assessment they were not available from regional offices. As part of outreach work, national and international NGOs have summarised and distributed copies of these laws amongst communities. In 2012, the Green Advocates also distributed copies to forest stakeholders for review and comments during the Sanction +6 Conference in June 2012.

Recent regulations have further developed the framework, including the National Benefit Sharing Trust regulations and regulations for the CRL approved by the FDA Board of Directors in 2011, which are discussed further in other indicators.

The chain saw milling regulation was approved in March 2012 following a series of regional consultations and a national workshop. This is a step towards formally recognising and regulating chainsaw milling, which aims to support an important livelihood of many people, especially poor communities, and mitigate the negative environmental impacts. Nonetheless, there are some inconsistencies in the approved regulation, which raises questions about its implementation. Part 3, Section 2e states that the FDA shall only offer chainsaw milling permits on forest lands whose use or condition makes them unsuitable for sustainable forest management by the Authority, which appears to contradict the overall objective of ensuring that it is carried out through procedures and practices that promote the mutual interests of chain sawyers, communities and sustainable forest management. Part 3, Section 2c states that the FDA shall not offer permits for areas covering more than 1,000 hectares at a time for an individual Chain Sawyer or group of Chain Sawyers but then states that multiple individual licences of this size may be granted in community forests larger than 1,000 hectares, which gives reason for concern that large overall areas could be exploited if there are not clear procedures for community oversight.

In general, Liberia has taken progressive steps towards establishing a set of laws and regulations for the forest sector but there have been on-going challenges due to lack of compliance by authorities with this framework. The UN Panel of Experts on Liberia and various civil society actors have consistently raised concerns about violations of the new laws and regulations. The NFRL and CRL provide for five categories of permits for timber extraction: Forest Management Contracts, Timber Sales Contracts, Forest Use Permits, Private Use Permits (PUPs) and Community Forest Contracts. Of them, only PUPs do not have any supporting regulations. Over 2012, it came to light that PUPs had been agreed between landowners and companies and approved by the FDA on more than two million hectares of forests, largely on communal lands. An investigation by the Sustainable Development Institute, Save My Future Foundation and Global Witness found that this process had failed to follow due processes and protect communities (1). Consequently, on 31 August 2012 President Johnson Sirleaf confirmed a moratorium on further activity or issuance of PUPs and commissioned an independent investigation into allegations of abuse and illegality. This moratorium was upheld at the time of this assessment, but it remained to be seen what further measure would be taken.

(1) Global Witness, Save My Future Foundation and Sustainable Development Institute, Signing Their Lives Away: Liberia’s Private Use Permits and the Destruction of Community-Owned Rainforest, 4 September 2012. Available at www.globalwitness.org/library/signing-their-lives-away-liberia%E2%80%99s-private-use-permits-and-destruction-community-owned

Title a. An Act Adopting the National Forestry Reform Law, 2006;
b. Ten Core Regulations, 2007
c. Community Rights Law, 2009
d. Regulation on Benefit Sharing Trust, 2011
e. Regulation on Community Rights Law, 2011
f. Regulation on Chain Saw milling, 2012
Organisation Forestry Development Authority
Source a. www.fda.gov.lr/doc/finalforestrylawPASSEDBYLEGISLATURE.pdf
b. http://www.fda.gov.lr/doc/FDATENCOREREGULATIONS.pdf
c. http://www.fda.gov.lr/doc/Liberia%20Forestry%20-%20CRL%20October%202009%20-%20official.pdf
d. Available from the Forestry Development Authority
e. Available from the Forestry Development Authority
f. http://www.fda.gov.lr/doc/fda%20web%20site.txt and http://www.rightsandresources.org/publication_details.php?publicationID=4918
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