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Palm oil, land rights and ecosystem services in Gbarpolu County, Liberia

Evans, R. and Griffiths, G., (2013) Palm oil, land rights and ecosystem services in Gbarpolu County, Liberia. Research Note. 3. Walker Institute for Climate System Research, University of Reading, Reading.

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Abstract/Summary

As part of the rebuilding efforts following the long civil war, the Liberian government has renegotiated long-term contracts with international investors to exploit natural resources. Substantial areas of land have been handed out in large-scale concessions across Liberia during the last five years. While this may promote economic growth at the national level, such concessions are likely to have major environmental, social and economic impacts on local communities, who may not have been consulted on the proposed developments. This report examines the potential socio-economic and environmental impacts of a proposed large-scale oil palm concession in Bopolu District, Gbarpolu County in Liberia. The research provided an in-depth mapping of current resource use, livelihoods and ecosystems services, in addition to analysis of community consultation and perceptions of the potential impacts of the proposed development. This case study of a palm oil concession in Liberia highlights wider policy considerations regarding large-scale land acquisitions in the global South: • Formal mechanisms may be needed to ensure the process of Free, Prior, Informed Consent takes place effectively with affected communities and community land rights are safeguarded. • Rigorous Environmental and Social Impact Assessments need to be conducted before operations start. Accurate mapping of customary land rights, community resources and cultural sites, livelihoods, land use, biodiversity and ecosystems services is a critical tool in this process. • Greater clarity and awareness-raising of land tenure laws and policies is needed at all levels. Good governance and capacity-building of key institutions would help to ensure effective implementation of relevant laws and policies. • Efforts are needed to improve basic services and infrastructure in rural communities and invest in food crop cultivation in order to enhance food security and poverty alleviation. Increasing access to inputs, equipment, training and advice is especially important if male and female farmers are no longer able to practice shifting cultivation due to the reduction/ loss of customary land and the need to farm more intensively on smaller areas of land.

Item Type:Report
Divisions:Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Human Environments
Faculty of Science > School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science > Department of Geography and Environmental Science
ID Code:33817
Uncontrolled Keywords:Palm oil Land rights Ecosystems services Liberia Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Participatory methods
Publisher:Walker Institute for Climate System Research, University of Reading

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