Natural resource issues
Liberia is home to the largest remaining area of the once-vast Upper Guinean rainforest, with rich biodiversity. It has timber, good agricultural land, extensive fisheries, minerals and possibly oil. However, corruption, mismanagement and conflict over the years have meant that to date, Liberia’s people have seen few benefits from these.
Over the past few years, however, there has been a process of reform in the forest sector. The new legislation includes express recognition of community rights to forest resources, including commercial rights, and hence opens the opportunity for forest communities to manage forests for themselves.
At the same time, however, the new framework also keeps the door open to the allocation of commercial logging concessions. There is also pressure on forests through the expansion of rubber plantations and other land uses. If left unchecked, this will result in further loss of forest cover and limited benefits to rural communities.
Well Grounded in Liberia
Well Grounded has in the past provided support to Liberian civil society organisation the Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI) to develop work with forest communities. The main objective of this work has been to show that communities can and do manage forests well – and that community forestry can be a credible alternative to large-scale resource exploitation. Currently, Well Grounded is keeping abreast of developments in the country, but is not actively engaged.