By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
In line with the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) signed between the Government of Liberia and the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Liberia Chainsaw and Timber Dealers Union (LICSATDUN) have signed a Letter of Agreement (LoA) to reduce illegal chainsaw logging.
The agreement is also intended to promote legal chain sawmilling operations, through the creation and capacity building of chainsaw operators associations.
The VPA is a legal bilateral trade agreement between the European Union and timber-producing countries outside the EU, such as Liberia. The purpose of a VPA is to ensure that timber and timber products exported to the EU come from legal sources. The agreement also helps timber-exporting countries stop illegal logging by improving regulation and governance of forest sector.
The FAO- EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme funded by the European Union, Swedish Cooperation (SIDA) and UK Department for International Development (DfiD)) is providing support towards the implementation of this VPA between the EU and Liberia.
The intervention titled, “Pilot-testing formation of Chainsaw Operators into Association”, will be implemented in Rivercess and Grand Bassa Counties. The President of the Liberia Chainsaw and Timber Dealer Union, Julius M. Kamara, and the FAO Representative in Liberia, Madam Mariatou Njie, signed on behalf of their respective institutions.
During the signing ceremony, Mr. Kamara welcomed the initiative and lauded the EU and FAO for the support which according to him will enhance the operation of their institution. “This will help improve our knowledge and understanding and enhance compliance with the forest law of Liberia”.
Mr. Kamara averred that his institution is blessed to receive the support from FAO, as their members also want to be seen and act as lawful operators in the timber industry of Liberia, “We are glad to be part of this process, FAO has been very supportive of the regulation of the chainsaw milling sector in Liberia”.
He mentioned that the new funding will also help empower women to engage in the various aspects of the timber production and trading through leadership and business training skills.
Also speaking, the FAO Representative in Liberia, Madam Mariatou Njie, said FAO remains committed in supporting the Government of Liberia strengthen the forest sector.
She disclosed that the FAO-EU FLEGT program is a global initiative that seeks to reduce and eventually eliminate illegal logging. She further added that the program works in support of the European Union’s Action Plan on FLEGT to promote the legal production and consumption of timber by granting funds to projects, and assisting them at all stages from the original design through the final outcome.