Liberia: Sustainable Forest Management
According to the Liberia Social Audit Report of 2011, more than 1,084,912 hectares of forestland have been allocated by the Liberian government to logging operations as indicated by available statics. In addition to areas allocated to logging operations, other concessions allocated to agribusinesses will have impacts on the nation’s forests as well, given the overlaps with forestlands in different conditions.
Sustainable forest management aims to ensure that the goods and services derived from the forest meet present-day needs while at the same time securing their continued availability and contribution to long-term development. In its broadest sense, forest management encompasses the administrative, legal, technical, economic, social and environmental aspects of the conservation and use of forests. It implies various degrees of deliberate human intervention, ranging from actions aimed at safeguarding and maintaining the forest ecosystem and its functions, to favoring specific socially or economically valuable species or groups of species for the improved production of goods and services.
More to this, sustainable forest management refers to the management of our private and public forests to ensure they continue to provide not only a sound supply of renewable timber for present and future generations, but also maintain their environmental values and social services. It is dependent on credible science and professional commitment to improving the nature of forest management by responsible agencies and forest managers. In Liberia, governments set policies and targets to guide the application of sustainable forestry; particularly on public land but not much detailed on private land.
Nationally, the government of Liberia to a greater extent has adopted principles and measures that are based on international level criteria widely agreed among nations with strong, long-term forestry industries, which include conservation of biological diversity, maintenance of productive capacity of forest ecosystems and their health and vitality, conservation and maintenance of soil and water resources, and enhancement of long term multiple socio-economic benefits to meet needs of societies.
State forest and land management agencies and corporate forestry organizations often use the term “ecologically sustainable forest management”, to describe the approach outlined above. A reputable forest and environmental consultant recently proclaimed, “The language of sustainability is now being spoken from the boardroom to the bush”, suggesting that the message of Sustainable Forest Management is now widely accepted. What this means is that ecological sustainable forest management strongly aims at achieving a continuing balance of timber supply, economic and social benefits, while retaining a range of environmental values.
While we hope that that the government of Liberia is applying the various policies and principles in managing the forest sustainably, we wish that we consider Our indigenous communities that still have a wealth of awareness and knowledge on how to look after woodlands and forests in a sustained way for a variety of values. Indigenous people lived in balance with their wooded environment, drawing on only as many resources as it would sustain, for many years. In parts of Liberia for instance, forests are still being cut down without proper management to ensure their regeneration, sometimes illegally. They are not regarded as being sustainably managed and natural forest resources are being greatly diminished and, in some cases, continue to decline. Unfortunately, in a least developed country such as Liberia, forest management should be highly evolved with our forest managers and practitioners constantly striving to improve and apply sustainable forestry practices.
Many of the world’s forests and woodlands, however, especially in the tropics and subtropics, are still not managed in accordance with the Forest Principles adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, 1992). Many developing countries have inadequate funding and human resources for the preparation, implementation and monitoring of forest management plans, and lack mechanisms to ensure the participation and involvement of all stakeholders in forest planning and development. Where forest management plans exist, they are frequently limited to ensuring sustained production of wood, without due concern for non-wood products and services or social and environmental values. In addition, many countries lack appropriate forest legislation, regulation and incentives to promote sustainable forest management practices.
FAO helps member countries overcome these constraints through the provision of information and policy advice and through institutional and technical capacity-building activities. FAO collects, analyses and disseminates information; prepares manuals and guidelines; and organizes workshops and seminars that facilitate the dissemination of best practices and the exchange of experiences. Field projects are implemented in all types of natural forests. They also address emergency situations caused by natural disasters or the adverse effects of human activities, and offer opportunities for hands-on training.
At the national level, FAO supports initiatives for the development and implementation of criteria and indicators to define clearly the elements of sustainable forest management and to monitor progress towards it. At the field level, FAO helps identify, test and promote innovative forest management approaches and techniques, e.g. through support for model and demonstration forests.