National Policy and Legislation: Liberia Forestry Policy

Liberia is richly endowed with natural resources and these serve as the basis for the country’s development and future prosperity. Forests in Liberia cover about 4.3 million hectares
(or about 45 percent of the land area) and forestry has long been one of the most important
sectors in the country.

Over the last 14 years, a prolonged civil conflict has led to great loss of life, economic
collapse, mass migration and internal displacement, as well as destruction of much of the
country’s infrastructure. The forestry sector has suffered from these problems and, in
particular, is characterized by weakened forest governance. Most recently, the use of forest
revenues to fund armed conflict has been acknowledged and resulted in the United Nations
Security Council placing sanctions on all exports of timber and timber products from Liberia
in July 2003.

To restore the economy and heal the wounds of the civil conflict, it will be necessary to
rehabilitate and reorientate the forestry sector. In this post-conflict period, social, economic
and political changes have created expectations that will present new challenges to the
forestry administration and other stakeholders in the sector. To meet these challenges and
avoid the problems of the past will require a number of policy reforms across the sector.

The post-conflict period has also presented a window of opportunity to update the
inappropriate policies of the past in a new climate of openness. Taking advantage of this, the
government has already started by consulting widely to develop a new vision for the forestry
sector, which is outlined in this policy.

In very broad terms, forestry policy will continue to focus on maximizing the benefits of the
forestry sector to Liberian society, but with a special emphasis on the contribution of the
sector to poverty alleviation. It will do this by seeking to balance and integrate the
commercial, community and conservation uses of Liberia’s forests, so that they can continue
to produce vital environmental goods and services as well as support the economic
development of the nation. It is also expected that the role of government will need to change
in the future to reflect the demand for greater public participation in the sector.

This document describes the aims and objectives of the new forestry policy and presents a
number of strategies that will be pursued to achieve these objectives. In collaboration with our
local and international partners, the government will implement this policy so that Liberia’s
forests can once again contribute to the welfare of every Liberian citizen.