Organized by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, the conference brought together decision-makers from governments, UN agencies, private sector stakeholders as well as representatives from indigenous peoples, local communities, NGOs and academia to discuss the challenges of halting and reversing deforestation and to jointly explore ways to accelerate progress towards achieving in particular the SDG Target 15.2 and Target 1.1 of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests 2017-2030. The event offered a unique opportunity to collectively address the cross-sectoral impact of integrating economic, environmental, social, policy and regulatory dimensions of forests for global sustainable development. Youth and young people took an active part in the event, having its own training sessions on the Landscape Approach, Gender and Indigenous Peoples Consultation on 19 February.
Being high on the climate change agenda, Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) approach was particularly highlighted during the session on “People Centred Approaches to Integrated Landscape Management”. The session was moderated by Thomas Hammond (FAO) and included presentations from Barron Orr (UNCCD), Saah A. David, Jr. (Forestry Development Authority, Liberia), Cora van Oosten (Centre for Development Innovation, Wageningen University), Godlisten Matilya (AWF), Augusta Mindry Anandi (USAID LESTARI) and Tiina Vahanen (REDD+, FAO). The session speakers highlighted various benefits of applying integrated approaches at the landscape scale, such as improved livelihoods, enhanced resilience of social and ecological systems, and improved adaptation to future climate change.
During the discussion, the panellists touched on topics including key success factors in integrated landscape management, the transformational power of REDD+, as well as highlighted important local intervention examples or strategies in Liberia, Indonesia and Tanzania, which are relevant to long-term sustainability of the world’s forests.
One of the speakers, Mr David Saah coordinates the national REDD+ work at the Forestry Development Authority in Liberia. He put emphasis on the importance of including the local communities in the process of designing and implementing landscape management initiatives in the country.
According to FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015, 43% of Liberia is covered with forests, with a large proportion of the rural population being dependent on forests. These are particularly vulnerable communities for whom forest products and ecosystem services serve as an economic and social safety net, especially in times of political unrest. For Liberians, to protect the country’s forests means to protect its people.
“REDD+ is not only associated with carbon”, said Ms Saah. “It is also considered to contribute to various multiple benefits such as stakeholder engagement that brings together civil society, local communities, smallholders, government, donors and other partners to identify strategies, policies and action needed for sustainable and equitable use of forest resources.”
One of the latest REDD+ developments in Liberia is the work on Liberia’s first comprehensive National Forest Monitoring System (NFMS). In the context of REDD+, an NFMS is a system for recording and monitoring how land is used in a country, and to develop data which shows the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and removals related to forests.
By including environmental and social safeguards and mechanisms for benefit sharing and resolving grievances, REDD+ strives for the inclusion of local communities throughout all the steps of designing an integrated landscape management system.
At the NFMS stage, community monitoring is especially important, as it can allow for bottom-up validation of satellite data, and the incorporation of local knowledge into large-scale national monitoring.
“In Liberia, communities are at the heart of what we do at forestry and REDD+”, highlights Mr Saah. “Liberia’s National REDD+ Strategy has 5 strategic priorities and communities are at the centre of every each of them.It is essential to ensure that women, men and youth are rightfully involved in the process. Doing so can help contribute to the effectiveness of local forest monitoring systems and increase ownership and sustainability of REDD+.”
Further Information on the International Conference “Halting Deforestation and Increasing Forest Area – from Aspiration to Action”: http://www.cpfweb.org/93859/en/
Website of the International Conference “Halting Deforestation and Increasing Forest Area – from Aspiration to Action”
FAO’s REDD+ webpage
Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Republic of Liberia, REDD+ page
An Act to Establish the Community Rights Law of 2009 with Respect to Forest Lands
FAO video with Mr David on ” Putting people at the centre of Liberia’s REDD+ Strategy”: