Indufor Engages in the Development of Livelihoods Around Community Forests in Liberia

December 5, 2019

The Liberia Forest Sector Project (LFSP), is a comprehensive undertaking to support the country’s fight against deforestation and forest degradation while increasing the benefits to forest-adjacent communities from managing the forests in a sustainable manner. The LFSP, financed through the World Bank, is aligned to the REDD+ efforts and continues the forest sector reform and building the 4Cs, balancing and integrating Community, Commercial, Conservation and Carbon use of the forests.

Liberia has 4.5 million hectares of lowland tropical forests—one of the largest continuous forest blocks that remain in West Africa. Liberia’s forests are also widely recognised as a global hotspot of diversity, boasting flora and fauna which are both rare and at risk. Liberia plans to conserve 30% or more of its forests as protected areas, with the remainder to be used for sustainable forest management and community forestry. Photo: Thomas Selänniemi

Indufor is now engaged by the Liberia Forest Development Authority (FDA) to carry out an assignment under the LFSP called “Coordination and Management of Livelihood Activity Support to Forest-Dependent Communities”. The assignment covers 31 communities that are at the moment going through the process of becoming Authorized Forest Communities (AFC), meaning that communities are given the authority to manage their forests. Our target communities are located in the North West and South East Priority Landscapes of the country and include more than 300 villages with around 350 000 inhabitants. Indufor is carrying out this assignment in partnership with our local partner, Liberia Agency for Research and Sustainable Development.

The process for a community to be given the authority to manage its forests is outlined in nine steps, as shown in this poster in Nyema village. The Liberia Forest Development Authority is supporting the communities through the LFSP to get through these steps and getting the status of an Authorized Forest Community. Photo: Thomas Selänniemi

The main outcome of Indufor’s engagement will be Community Livelihood Plans for income generation around sustainable community forestry and agriculture. The plans will outline the livelihoods to be strengthened and the support interventions to be undertaken through the Liberia Forest Development Authority (FDA).

Our field team on the way to community meetings in Cape Mount County in Northern Namibia. The road network is poor and hence the most appropriate mode of transportation is motorbikes. Photo: Thomas Selänniemi

We are carrying out the livelihoods planning as a participatory process where we involve representatives from all communities. Our four field teams have met with all targeted communities and applied Focus Group Discussions, Key Informant Meetings as well as General Community Meetings to raise awareness and get information and their views on livelihoods. We are working closely with the FDA and its Community Forest Department, profiting from their experience and information from the ongoing community forestry establishment process. We are also engaging with civil society organisations and other on-going interventions around forestry and conservation for information sharing and feedback, e.g. the Community Forestry Management Board, the Society for Conservation of Nature in Liberia, Universal Outreach Foundation, Wild Chimpanzee Foundation and the USAID funded Forest Incomes for Environmental Sustainability (FIFES) programme, to mention a few.

In the Focus Group Discussions, our field teams are taking a gender-sensitive approach and talking separately with women to ensure that their opinions are voiced in discussions on the livelihoods. Photo: Thomas Selänniemi

The community meetings are now completed, and we are commencing with the data analysis. Community livelihood priorities and assets, as well as infrastructure challenges and market realities, are key information that we capture from our own data and engagement with stakeholders since these are central factors in developing the livelihood plans.

Palm oil is already produced and sold by many households in Liberia. Palm oil is widely consumed as an additive to many Liberian dishes and sold by retail in small towns, urban markets and supermarkets. With adequate land use planning and management, palm oil has the potential to become an important livelihood option for the target communities contributing to income generation and reducing pressure on the indigenous forests. Photo: Thomas Selänniemi

The livelihood plans covering 31 communities are to be ready by mid-February 2020. The next step will be for the FDA to roll out support interventions as outlined in the livelihood plans. The FDA will engage Technical Service Providers (TSP). In fact, a part of our assignment is to also identify stakeholders (e.g. NGOs) with the potential of being hired by the FDA as TSP for supporting the implementation of the Livelihood Plans.

 

Indufor is a global leader in Natural Resources Management, Investment Advisory, and Strategic Industrial Development consulting. We support our customers to compete and sustainably grow in international markets. Indufor has offices in Finland, New Zealand, Australia and the United States, and representation in China. We have close to 40 years of experience in more than 100 countries. Our services support our clients to make the world more sustainable and greener.

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Thomas Selänniemi

Head of Sustainability Consulting

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