Forest Landscape Restoration Gives Liberia Unique Opportunity to Rehabilitate Refugee Camps

09 May 2006 | Event

The recently held UNEP-sponsored workshop on Population Displacement and the Environment on the impact of population displacement on environment in Liberia comes at a timely moment for this war-torn country.

IUCN’s training input focused on how Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) can serve as a guiding methodological framework for the rehabilitation of now degraded former camp lands. Refugee camps which provided security and shelter for up to 400,000 people during the war, left significant environmental impacts on areas that were once forests, plantations, wetlands or agricultural land.

Peace is starting to flourish after decades of civil war, and the thousands of refugees from neighboring countries and Liberian IDPs (Internally Displaced People) that fled from there homes during conflict are now returning, and the camps that housed them are being closed. At the peak of the refugee and IDP crisis the camps provided security and shelter for up to 400,000 people. Needless to say, the presence of the camps and the large populations left significant environmental impacts on areas that were once forests, plantations, wetlands or agricultural land.

Rehabilitate the former camps

IUCN’s training input focused on how Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) can serve as a guiding methodological framework for the rehabilitation of now degraded former camp lands. With its focus on maximizing an optimum suite of goods and services across the landscape, the FLR framework provides local landowners and community stakeholders an opportunity to decide what goods and services they’d like to restore across their lands. In addition to a focus on degraded and deforested IDP and refugee camps, the workshop participants also considered the application of FLR in areas where former IDPs would be resettled, since it is not possible for all to return to their homes and lands.

“The Forest Landscape Restoration approach is a new initiative for Liberia and provided participants with the unique opportunity to model two cases of land restoration: land rehabilitation of a former IDP camp and greening a planned resettlement site” said Kay Farmer, programme manager at the post conflict branch of UNEP. “Participants expressed a keen interest to develop and adapt these newly acquired skills to other case studies; such training is invaluable to the sustainable reconstruction of post-conflict Liberia ”.

Concrete results

The training was focused on classroom work followed by practical application. Two field visits were conducted where participants had a chance to apply the FLR approach across 2 distinct landscapes, while integrating key information from local stakeholders determined through a rapid PRA-process of community m appi ng and input.

The results were concrete. A draft proposal, entitled Situation analysis and Proposed Environmental Rehabilitation of Maimu I and II Former IDP Camp, Bong County, Liberia was developed and submitted to the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), which is in the process of conducting an assessment of all camps in Liberia to develop a plan for next steps for environmental and social rehabilitation. The draft proposal is being used as an input and template for the teams conducting those national assessments.

For more information:
Please contact Stephen Kelleher Senior Programme Officer, IUCN Forest Conservation Programme at: stephen.kelleher@iucn.org


View of logging road in the Cameroon Forests