The goal of this website is to provide students and faculty with access to a host of resources about community forestry in Liberia.
Traditionally, forestry education in Liberia was science-based and technical in orientation. Students were taught to produce, grow, plant, manage, and harvest trees and process timber. Forestry education prepared graduates for applied work in forestry and the forest industry, e.g., plantation establishment, timber harvesting, saw mills, plywood factories, furniture making, machinery operation and maintenance. Forest rangers were hired by the public sector to protect the forest from illegal loggers and poachers and to issue certificates to those who had permission to cut trees legally so that logs could be transported to sawmills or to ports for export. The forest service was largely isolated from rural communities and the public sector was the major employer of graduates of the forestry education system.
The shift in focus from conventional forestry to a community forestry system in which Liberians play a more active role in managing forests and their associated natural resources demands a different set of skills, knowledge, and attitudes. Whereas forest training has, until recently, been technology-based, there is now a need to build the interdisciplinary skills of foresters and to encourage their understanding of social principles and processes. Today, the forester’s job has transformed from managing forests to applying a wide range of skills to respond to the needs of forestry stakeholders and their demand for products and services from trees and forests. The forestry sector and the legislation guiding it have evolved from viewing forests primarily as extractable commodity to recognizing the critical roles these resources can play in the sustainable development of Liberia. An approach focused on community management of revenues from forest exploitation can encourage a critical shift in social and economic relations in Liberia; community forestry can also play a key role in Liberia’s development as an entry-point for governance reform.