The ability to resolve disputes over the use of land and natural resources while safeguarding the rights and tenure of local people has made land use planning essential to rural livelihoods and sustainable development. It is also one of the best methods for promoting national or subnational agreements on land use that address issues of climate change adaptation and balance economic, social, and environmental goals.
Land use planning has been acknowledged as an urgent development strategy in Liberia that can address overlapping concessions, establish customary land rights, and direct wise economic development.
Proforest Africa is supporting the Liberia Government, to deliver land use plans for 19 county districts in the southeast REDD+ priority landscape and 21 clan areas in the northwest REDD+ priority landscape. This is being done in collaboration with Initiatief Duurzame Handel (IDH) Fauna & Flora International (FFI), Society for the Conservation of Nature of Liberia (SCNL) and Sustainable Development Institute (SDI).
The PLUP is to support communities to identify lands suitable for forest conservation, agriculture production, logging, mining and other uses and address conflicts over land boundaries, secure community rights and tenure. Under the Land Right Act (LRA 2018), the government of Liberia is to hand over customary lands to the local communities. The community land formalization process under the LRA 2018 includes participatory land use planning.
Through this initiative, Proforest has helped 19 districts and 21 clans prepare their land use plans covering an area of about 1,883,399.59 hectares as required by the LRA 2018 to help them acquire their land documents (Deeds).
“The Participatory Land Use Planning process involved 3 key steps both at the clan, district and national levels: Background information review, capacity building for stakeholders, consultations, data gathering and analysis, and preparation of draft PLUPs and PLUP validation and preparation of action plans” said James Parker, Principal Project Manager, Proforest Africa.
He continued, “the Liberia land use plans serve a long-term purpose, and it is of high importance to conservation of critical ecosystems of global importance in 3 trans-boundary forests: Gola Forest in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Ziama-Wonegizi- Wologizi forest between Liberia and Guinea and the approximately 20,000 km² dense covers in south-eastern Liberia that stretches to the southwest forests of Côte d’Ivoire.”
The community believes supporting them with this process will ensure protection and sustainable use of these forests.
This land use plan will hand over lands to communities and will help us incorporate the traditional and cultural way of protecting and using our resources especially protecting our medicinal plants,
said Cecilia Blayee, Petroken Women’s Group Secretary, Liberia.
The PLUP programme, which is funded by the Norwegian government through the World Bank started in September 2020 and will run until the end of July 2023.