Monday, July 10, 2006

Conflict, Timber, Sustainable Development, and the Rule of Law

Thursday, June 8, 2006 3pm to 5pm

Speakers: Scott Bode, Natural Resources Advisor, USAID
Peter O’ Donohue, Forest Programs Officer, US Dept of State.
Glenn T Prickett, Senior Vice-President, Conservation International
K.W James Rochow, World Bank Legal Advisor for Forestry Concession review

Robert Simpson, Liberia Program Coordinator, USDA Forest Service

The Liberia Forest Initiative, a partnership involving the government, international and non- governmental organizations works to promote the rehabilitation and reform of Liberia’s forest sector and sustainable forest management.
Panelists spoke about the role played by ‘conflict timber’ in the 14 years of civil war in Liberia. They spoke about how former Liberian President Charles Taylor’s regime was financed by revenues generated from the timber trade. The Panelists also highlighted recent political developments in Liberia, including the canceling of the forest concessions, Taylor’s custody in Sierra Leone and a prison sentence for Guus Kouwenhoven.
Mr. Bob Simpson mentioned how 14 years of civil war has left the Forest Development Authority incapacitated. Daily life is also extremely chaotic and there is a need to establish rule of law in Liberia. Therefore, some of the guiding principles of the LFI is to establish the rule of law, accountability and transparency in the sector. The LFI’s interventions, he said, are based on a clear process and structure that result in objective analysis.
The partnership of reform, according to the panelists, has focused on a number of issues including creation of a concession review committee, legal and financial reforms. It also works to improve financial management at FDA, train FDA staff, etc.
The panelists also highlighted some of the achievements of the LFI which included concession review, a draft legal framework, etc. The next step for the LFI would be to enact forestry law and amendments.

by Tahseen Alam

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