A coastal land on the tropical belt of West Africa, Liberia relies heavily on its natural resources. Agricultural commodity production such as rubber, palm oil and timber, together with mining activities for iron ore, gold and diamond make up the backbone of the country’s economy. Its diverse geography is composed of various landscapes including tropical rainforests, mangroves, grasslands and montane ecologies.  Crises, including the 14-year civil war that ended in 2003, and the more recent Ebola outbreak have seriously hampered economic development in the country. In the past decade, however, Liberia has seen positive economic growth and agricultural expansion. This has also meant rapid deforestation rates (approximately 400,000 ha of intact forest are said to have been cut down between 2001 and 2013).

Production, Protection and Sustained Economic Growth

To counter the negative impacts of deforestation, Liberia has joined the UN REDD process and is running a forest program with Norway. Moreover, leading international mining and palm oil companies operating in the area have committed to long-term economic development and forest conservation.

Liberia is therefore in an advantaged position to grow its economy, while minimizing environmental harm. This requires addressing both the production of commodities and the protection of forests.

The IDH managed Smallholder Productivity and Forest Protection program together with its main partners aim to achieve these production and protection objectives. Our leading partners are the Liberian Forest Development Authority (FDA), and a number of international concession holding companies in the palm oil and the mining sector. Focus of the initiative is on three landscapes; two landscapes where large scale palm oil concessions have been awarded, and one landscape with presence of a large iron ore concession holder.

Program Goals

We aim to bring together the key stakeholders in each landscape in order to develop a long term green growth plan in which community, commercial, and conservation goals are considered and balanced. Based on this long term vision, investments will be mobilized to provide solid social and economic development opportunities for rural communities, while ensuring long term conservation of HCV/HCS forests.

Moreover, through its de-risking facility, IDH has introduced what is called Production-Protection Agreements (PPAs), in which the communities, the FDA and the private sector agree to conserve and actively protect a certain amount of forest in exchange for loan finance and technical assistance to increase agricultural productivity in targeted rural communities. The program also supports income diversification and alternative livelihood schemes for communities that join the PPA scheme.

In close collaboration with public and private partners, the program aims to achieve the following in each of the three landscapes in 2016:

  1. Green Growth Planexecuted by public-private partners in the three landscapes, where commercial, community and conservation interests are addressed.
  2. Production-protectionagreements between companies-government-communities in the three landscapes are being implemented.
  3. Risk sharing facilityfor investment in community palm oil production operations.
  4. Improved (food) crop production/diversificationactivities by community members to improve livelihoods.


Program Launch

The Smallholder Productivity and Forest Protection program was officially launched in Monrovia on March 21st 2016, where IDH introduced the program and key figures from Liberia and Norway highlighted their interest in the approach as well as some of the challenges ahead. Key figures from Liberia included Madam Ciata Bisshop who is Head of the National Bureau of Concessions, Mr Harrison Karnwea who is Managing Director of the Forest Development Authority, and Mrs. Nina Snyder representing the Norwegian Embassy.

Community Oil Palm and Production Protection in Liberia

In April 2016, the FDA, the NBC and IDH brought together key public, private and civil society stakeholders to discuss the production-protection approach. Moreover, a ‘Community Oil Palm and Production Protection’ road-map was developed in a two day workshop. The results of the workshop were successful, with key outcomes including participants support for the approach, and their willingness to collaborate towards the first pilot projects near the end of the year 2016.

Lizzy van der Wal

Program Officer

phone+31 (0) 302307852

e-mailemail me

Nienke Stam

Senior Program Manager

phone+31 (0) 652862393

e-mailemail me

Daan Wensing

Program Director ISLA

phone+31 (0) 302305677

e-mailemail me

Manizha Korodiva

Communication Officer, ISLA

phone+31 (0) 302307179

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