It’s not very often that the end of a talk is as exciting as its beginning. Perhaps that should be expected when one witnesses historical moments in time—what can be called true game changers. Harrison Karnwea, the managing director of Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA), recently joined us at the World Bank, just days after the UN Climate Summit in New York
and the signing of a $150 million grant Letter of Intent
for a Forests REDD+ program between his country and Norway to be facilitated by the World Bank.
Under the agreement, Liberia and Norway will work together to improve the framework for forest governance, strengthen law enforcement and support efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in Liberia. Improved governance and adequate law enforcement in the forest sector and agriculture impede further destruction of Liberia’s rainforests and aim to avoid illegal logging and unsustainable agricultural practices. In a country where timber was once used to purchase weapons and helped fuel a devastating civil war, the partnership holds promise to reduce carbon emissions related to deforestation and forest degradation, facilitate green growth and enhance livelihoods.
Liberia has a population of approximately 3.5 million people and 4.5 million hectares of lowland tropical forests—one of the largest contiguous forest blocks that remains in West Africa. Liberia’s forests are also widely recognized as a global hotspot of diversity, boasting flora and fauna (like pygmy hippos) that is both rare and at risk.
Liberia plans to conserve 30 percent or more of its forests as protected areas with the remainder to be used for sustainable forest management and community forestry.