The help of investors and general public is required to pressure the government on recognising the land rights of the indigenous peoples and forest communities.

According to a paper of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) released on Wednesday, every community that inhabits any territory that is wanted to be exploited for natural resources and expanded for agricultural productions, has to be considered as well as their benefit must be ensured, which would also help reduce costs.

One of Liberia's tropical forests. Photo: USAID/Wikipedia
One of Liberia’s tropical forests. Photo: USAID/Wikipedia

The paper’s purpose is to provide a sense of how many people might be affected by plans of forest exploitation in Liberia. It shows an analysis that helps approximate the costs associated with plans to allocate 30% of the country’s forest territories to protected areas. “Liberia holds some of the last remaining, intact forests in West Africa and so reducing deforestation quickly and efficiently would be important in global climate change mitigation efforts.” as read in the paper.

The paper highlights some of the key factors that implementing organizations need take into account in their planning. It provides “a short set of basic recommendations” that would help increase the speed of implementation and also reduce costs, such as: supporting community conservation and enterprises, appropriate policy design and ensuring that Liberia’s rural community landowners are partners in any conservation process, all of them by reducing physical and economic displacement.

“Protecting Liberia’s forests is an urgent national and global priority. Given Liberia’s new Land Rights Policy, the existing distribution of Liberia’s population, and the potential risks and costs of displacement, it is clear that Liberia’s rural landowners will need to be primary partners in any conservation effort.”, as read in the paper while it is hoped to be helpful in these efforts.

It also says in the paper that  “a critical mass” of actors, including governments, aid donors and companies, are now acknowledging that secure local land rights is “a prerequisite for addressing poverty, conflict, deforestation, and the climate crisis”.

But, according to Andy White, RRI coordinator, political participation is almost insufficient. “I think we are on the brink of major change, both for saving forests and recognising rights, but it’s going to require a push for governments to take that next step,” said White. “That push we hope will come from both the major investors – the private sector – as well as the citizens of their own countries,” he added.

Source: Rights and Resources