HPA Conducts Legal Working Group Meeting For Community Forest Management Bodies (CFMBs) And Community Land Development And Management
HPA held a Legal Working Group (LWG) meeting on July 24, 2023, under the auspices of the Forest Governance, Markets, and Climate (FGMC) Programme. The event was designed for Community Forest Management Bodies (CFMBs) and Community Land Development and Management Committees (CLDMCs) from the counties of Sinoe, Lofa, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, and Rivercess.
The need to provide support ( technical and capacity building) to the governance structures established by laws governing forestry and land in Liberia is apparent. Both the CFMB and CLDMC encountered challenges with understanding the roles and responsibilities of the other group and how they can align their objectives for the benefit of the communities they work for. With support provided by FGMC through ClientEarth UK, HPA targeted the CLMDCs and CFMBs from the 5 Counties above listed, to provide capacity building and legal training on (i) their respective roles and responsibilities, (ii) how both CLDMC and CFMB can adapt a collaborative approach in performance of their duties, (iii) the legal framework governing land and forest activities in Liberia, and (iv) mainstreaming gender in forest and land governance.
During the session, HPA's Senior Partner, Cllr. T. Negbalee Warner, gave participants an outline of the Liberian Land Rights Act Regulation (“Regulation”). Participants were educated on provisions of the Land Rights Act, the role and powers of the Liberia Land Authority (“LLA”) amongst others, as well as provisions of the Regulations published by the LLA which he stated has impact on Customary Land. He identified key adequacies and some inadequacies of the Regulation. For instance, legally, land rental fees are to be paid to communities. However, the current law does not provide the detail of the amount required.
Cllr Lucia Gbala, HPA's Managing Director, spoke on community ownership of forests, the formation of the CFMB and the CLDMC, and their legal roles and responsibilities. She also presented a gender session which focused on women's participation in forest and land management and governance, and the obstacles that affect and hinder women from making actual impact in the areas of leadership.
Nathalie Faure presented the key messages of a recent study on legal frameworks for community forestry in Nepal, the Philippines and Tanzania. She highlighted the need for simple, clear and accessible laws, and regulations that provide structure, while also offering flexibility to adapt to the local context. When developing legal frameworks, specific attention should be paid to community participation in decision-making, access to markets and equitable benefit sharing, among others.
As a result of the presentations, participants were educated on the common purpose of CFMB and CLDMC and were able to brainstorm as to how the two bodies can work together to achieve the identified purpose in the legal frameworks, which is the benefit the communities the CFMB and CLDMC serve.
Aside the gender session, an examination of the suggestions made by the attendees from a similar LWG held in February 2023, and an overview of the legislative framework and operations of the two statutorily established community land and forest bodies, were all discussed during the meeting.