GVL, government and IDH reach out to communities for forest protection in Liberia

The Government of Liberia, the palm oil company Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL), and IDH are reaching out to rural communities in a series of workshops to engage them in our collective forest protection and livelihoods improvement program. The program, which is structured in a public-private and community partnership and involves investing in community oil palm outgrower farms, requires the free, informed and prior consent (FPIC) of the community. To explain the investment opportunity and to ensure a strong FPIC-based decision making process, the partners have developed a community poster and FAQ booklet.

Liberia is one of the least developed countries in the world, with high levels of undereducated and unemployed youth and few opportunities for economic development. The southeast of Liberia, where GVL holds oil palm concessions is particularly underdeveloped.

Under the government of Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy and the economic revitalization of the country’s rural economy, GVL was given concessionary rights to develop 220,000 hectares for oil palm in 2010. As Liberia is home to more than 40% of the valuable Upper Guinean rainforest and the southeast is especially densely forested, it is key that responsible oil palm development does not compromise these forests. Liberian concession agreements include a requirement that concessionaires should support the development of outgrower schemes, with approximately 1 ha for every 5 ha of company oil palm. In other words, a company such as GVL needs to support local communities to develop oil palm farms for the export markets. Additionally, the Liberian government must obtain funding for the out grower program.

To ensure that this goes hand-in-hand with forest protection, the Government of Liberia, GVL and IDH are now collaborating to raise the first round of investment capital for six to eight communities for 4,000 ha of community oil palm farmland, leveraging at least 20,000 ha of HCV/HCS forest conservation. The program is designed so that for every hectare of community oil palm farm that is developed, the community will protect at least five hectares of forest.

The workshop series and the materials explain to the communities, among other things how the program works, how they can participate and what benefits and risks to expect.

The poster can be found here.

Community Oil Palm, forest protection, green growth plans

The primary activities that IDH and partners implement are:

  1. Raise investment in community oil palm outgrower communities, in partnership with the concession holder;
  2. Working with outgrower communities, GVL and the Liberian Forestry Development Authority to set aside forest for conservation;
  3. Build community capacity in governance, land use planning, food security and income diversification and forest protection and monitoring.

Read more about the program here.