Complementary to the relevant World Bank Operations Policies is current Liberian Government Legislation and regulations. This includes identification of relevant aspects of the following:
Liberian environmental and forest management laws, regulations and procedures;
Other relevant Liberian laws, regulations and procedures related to resource use and conservation
Environmental Protection Act
The EPA Act established an Environmental Administrative Court and provides for a National Environment Action Plan, which builds on local – regional action plans. The Act requires Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) to be carried out for all activities and projects likely to have an adverse impact on the environment, and mechanisms to require restoration of degraded environment. The Act also provides the means for permits, fees and fines.
The Act Adopting the Environment Protection and Management Law of the Republic of Liberia 2003, (GoL, 2003b) hereafter referred to as the Environment Protection and Management Law (EPML) is the principal piece of legislation covering environmental protection and management in Liberia, forming parallel legislation to the EPA Act (GoL, 2003a). It provides the legal framework for the sustainable development, management and protection of the environment by the EPA in partnership with relevant ministries, autonomous agencies and organizations. It also stresses inter-sectoral coordination while allowing for sector specific statutes.
In Section 4 the EPA Act lays down a number of principles guiding the administration of the law, amongst which those key to the proposed Scheme are:
The principle of sustainable development;
The precautionary principle;
The polluter-pays principle; and
The principle of public participation.
Part III of the Law covers provisions for environmental impact assessment, audit, and monitoring; Part IV deals with Environmental Quality Standards for water, air, hazardous waste, solid waste, soil, noise, ionization and other radiation, and noxious odors; Part V covers pollution control and licensing; Part VI provides guidelines and standards for the management of the environment and natural resources including rivers, lakes and wetlands, landscape, forest protection, wildlife, energy and renewable resources, coastal zone and marine environment; Part VII deals with protection of biodiversity, natural heritage and the ozone layer including in-situ and ex-situ conservation of biodiversity, genetic resources, land use planning, natural heritage sites, and the ozone layer; Part VIII covers environmental restoration orders; Part IX deals with inspection, analysis and record-keeping; Part X outlines international obligations; Part XI covers information access, and education and public awareness and Part XII outlines offences.
Part III of the EPML sets out the procedures for complying with Section 37 of the EPA Act. In summary, this specifies that the Developer shall:
Submit an application for an EIA license prior to commencement of all project actives specified under Annex I of the Law;
Publish a Notice of Intent – a concise statement of the nature, location and components of the project/activity to inform stakeholders/interested parties;
Submit a Project Brief to the EPA and relevant Line Ministries containing information on the nature, location, components, design, anticipated environmental impacts (including potential mitigation methods/measures) and other pertinent information as required by the EPA [Depending on whether or not the project/activity is judged to have(or may have) a significant impact on the environment, the EPA will either specify that the applicant prepare an Environmental Impact Study or an Environmental Review. If the project activity will not have, or is unlikely to have a significant environmental impact, the EPA will issue a FONSI (Finding of No Significant Impact).
The remainder of Part III sets out:
the Duties of the Developer and of the EPA in the EIA process;
the Scoping Process
guidelines for Environmental Review, EIA study and report, Environmental Impact Statement, Mitigation Plan and Implementation Strategy, Review of Impact Statement, Public Consultation Process, EPA Decision Process, Environmental Monitoring/Auditing Procedures and Administrative Issues.
Annex I of the EPML lists the type of agricultural projects/activities requiring an EIA.
Cultivating natural and semi-natural land areas not less than 50 ha;
Water management projects for agriculture (drainage, irrigation);
Large scale mono-culture (cash and food crops);
Pest control projects
Fertilizer and nutrient management
Agricultural programs necessitating the resettlement of communities
The STCRSP as proposed would not trigger these as the emphasis is on support to small farmers (i.e. farmers with less than 5 ha) who’s land is currently under tree crops. However, there is the possibility that future sub-projects could trigger the requirement for an EIA. For example:
Change of land use: Cultivating more than 50 ha of natural and semi-natural land areas;
The establishment of large scale tree nurseries with large irrigation requirement;
Significantly higher inputs of agro-chemicals;
Of relevance will be the EIA requirements for any value-added component. Annex 1 of the EPML list under Food and Beverage Industries lists among others:
Manufacture of oils and fats; and
Other agro-processing industries
The EPML also makes over-arching provisions for the management and protection of biodiversity.
Section 74 – Management of Rivers, Lakes and Wetlands states that the EPA may prescribe general or specific guidelines for their management, and with specific relevance to the Scheme:
Measures for the prevention or control of soil erosion;
The conservation of any vegetation growing in and around a river, lake or wetland;
Section 75 – Protection of Rivers, Lakes and Wetlands goes on to state that: “… no person shall in relation to a river, lake or wetland …
disturb the bed;
deposit any substance in a river, lake, or wetland or in or under its bed, which is likely to have adverse environmental effects on the river, lake or wetland;
direct or block a river, lake or wetland from its natural and normal course; and
drain any river, lake or wetland.”
Although these principles exist within the EPML, there are not as yet any guidance documents that actually provide quantified targets. Liberia is, however, a signatory of The African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (OAU, 1968) which specifies under Article V – Water that: “The contracting States shall establish policies for conservation, utilization and development of underground and surface water, and shall endeavor to guarantee for their populations a sufficient and continuous supply of suitable water, taking appropriate measures with due regard to -
the co-ordination and planning of water resources development projects;
the administration and control of all water utilization; and
prevention and control of water pollution.
Section 40 of the EPML states that the EPA shall, “in consultation with the relevant Line Ministry, establish criteria and procedures for the management and determination of soil quality and minimum standards for the management of soil quality”. To date no such standards have yet been developed. Liberia is, however, a signatory of The African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (OAU, 1968) which specifies under Article IV – Soils that “The contracting States shall take effective measures for conservation and improvement of the soils and shall in particular combat erosion and misuse of the soil. To this end they shall
establish land use plans based on scientific investigations (ecological, pedological, economic and sociological) and, in particular, classification of land use capability)
when implementing agricultural practices and agrarian reforms,
improve soil conservation and introduce improved farming methods, which ensure long-term productivity of the land;
control erosion caused by various forms of land use which may lead to loss of vegetation cover.”
Section 80 provides an outline framework for the Protection of Wild Animals and Birds and includes conservation areas. It differentiates wildlife protected areas in section 80 (4) – national park, wildlife reserve, and nature reserve – from wildlife management areas in section 80 (5) – wildlife sanctuary, and community wildlife area – while also stating that the Line Ministry can designate any other area as either as it sees fit.
Sections 83-85 provide for the enabling environment for the conservation of biodiversity, charging the EPA with the responsibility for a wide range of measures from preparing national conservation strategies to selecting and managing buffer zones to protected areas, to issuing guidelines for botanical gardens.
Section 52 – Management of Pesticide, Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Materials, Section 53 – Seizure of Pesticide, Toxic Substance, Hazardous Chemicals and Materials and Section 55 – Importation and Exportation of Hazardous Waste give the EPA power to control the of misuse of these substances through fines, seizure and other legal instruments. The EPA can also issue licenses for the importation of these.
Liberia ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (UN, 1992a) on 8 November 2000; this acts as the over-arching framework for all Government legislation and policy concerning the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of its benefits.
The key Government policy with regard to biodiversity is the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) (GoL, 2004) which implements the CBD at national level and comprises two components – the vision statement, the guiding principles, the goals and objectives on one hand and the actions for biodiversity conservation, sustainable use, and benefit sharing on the other. The goals and objectives are developed in consonance with the guiding principles. Those relevant to the current Scheme are
Liberia’s economic development must be based on sustainable use and sound management of renewable and non-renewable resources; and
Ecosystem approach should be seen as critical to comprehensive and effective conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity;”
The NBSAP has an overall goal couched in very general terms, and six specific goals, only the first of which has direct relevance to the proposed Scheme. Goal 1 is “To take appropriate measures to protect critical ecosystems against harmful effects or destructive practices for conservation of biological diversity” and in order to meet this, 16 objectives are elaborated, again those most relevant to the current proposals being:
Manage, conserve, protect and maintain game species and agricultural biodiversity as well as representative samples of forest ecosystems, inland water ecosystems, coastal and marine ecosystems, wetlands, natural heritage sites.
Develop EIA criteria for all programs and projects that are likely to have significant impacts on biological diversity
Leave enclaves of natural forests on higher elevations and along waterways
Regulate the introduction of alien species.
The key Liberian legal requirements and standards for protection of the biological environment are:
The prohibitions on activities in protected or proposed protected areas as outlined in Sections 8 and 9 of the National Forestry Reform Law 2006 (GoL, 2006);
The prohibition on activities relating to species of fauna protected under the Wildlife and National Parks Act 1988 (GoL, 1988);
Adoption of an ecosystem approach to management of biodiversity as articulated in the CBD, to which Liberia is a signatory and the Liberian National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (GoL, 2004); and
The requirement for “no net loss of biodiversity” as embodied in the principles and targets of the CBD.
The EPML establishes a number of important principles with respect to safeguarding the quality of the freshwater environment. These include:
an intention to establish criteria and procedures for the measurement of water quality for different uses (Part VI, Section 35);
an intention to develop a strategy to identify materials that are dangerous to human health and the environment; and to issue guidelines on handling, storage, transportation, segregation and destruction of hazardous waste (Part VI, Section 37);
Regulations against the discharge of any hazardous substance, chemical, oil or mixture containing oil in any waters or any other section of the environment (Part V, Section 56);
a framework for a system of Effluent Discharge Licenses, regulating the discharge of any effluent or other pollutants originating from the trade or industrial undertaking (Part V, Section 56 and 57); and
legislation against the dumping or discharge of any poison, toxic, noxious or obstructing matter, radioactive waste or other pollutant into any waters of Liberia, which is likely to cause harm to human health or aquatic environment in contravention of water pollution control standards (Part V, Section 61).
Although these principles exist within the EPML, there are not as yet any guidance documents that actually provide quantified targets.
Forestry Legislation and Policy
The Act Adopting the National Forestry Reform Law (NFRL) of 2006 (Amending the National Forestry Law of 2000, As Amended; and Amending an Act Creating the Forestry Development Authority, as Amended) (GoL, 2006), is now the paramount piece of forestry legislation and covers all aspects of commercial, conservation and community use of forests. This law also has a primary role with respect to the wider environment, with Chapter 8 covering Environmental Protection and Chapter 9 covering protected forests and protected areas for wildlife.
The categories of Protected Forest Areas are still those contained in Appendix I of the Protected Forest Areas Network Law (GoL, 2003c) which, in aiming to protect Liberia’s forests from deforestation, fragmentation and degradation, specifically requires the establishment of a Protected Forest Areas Network to cover at least 30% of the existing forested area of Liberia. It defines eight protected area types, two of which have relevance to the current Scheme because of the proximity of such areas:
National Forest – an area set aside for sustainable regulated commercial forest product extraction, hunting and the preservation of essential environmental functions performed by the forest. Existing areas of National Forest lie beyond the western limits of the Scheme, running towards the border of Liberia with Guinea (Figure 5.1); and
Nature Reserve – an area that does not form a complete ecological unit, set aside for the preservation and enjoyment of features that have outstanding natural beauty, cultural or biological significance, which may require some management intervention.
Chapter 5 of the NFRL Act covers the commercial and other use of forests. The most basic provision contained in Section 5.1 (a) is that “No person shall undertake Commercial Use of Forest Resources without permission from the [Forestry Development] Authority …” and in 5.1 (b) “The Authority may grant permission required … only through Forest Management Contracts, Timber Sale Contracts, Forest Use Permits, or Private Use Permits”. This may apply to the project if any of the trees to be felled have commercial value.
Section 9 of the NRFL Act also charges the FDA with the task of establishing and managing a Protected Forest Areas Network which in addition to national parks and nature reserves includes national forests, strict nature reserves, game reserves, controlled hunting areas, community forests, conservation corridors and buffer zones within some of which there are prohibitions on activities.
Section 19.1 gives the FDA the power to issue additional regulations to assist with implementation of the Law. This clause has recently been exercised with the issue of “FDA Draft Hunting Regulations” which includes a revised list of protected species (Appendix 5.C). As of 2008, draft regulations on the environment have also been prepared which provide for the undertaking of an EIA for forestry projects that involve:
Timber logging and processing;
Forestry plantation and forestation and introduction of new species;
Selective removal of single commercial tree species; and
For such projects the EPA EIA Procedural Guidelines (EPA, 2006) for forestry projects will therefore apply if removal of trees for the project constituted such a project.
Chapter 10 of the NFRL mandated that the FDA should prepare and send to the President to be presented to the Legislature for enactment of a comprehensive Community Rights Law (CRL) as relate to forest lands. The Community Rights law was enacted in 2008 and gives the communities management rights of community and traditional lands and forest resources on them. The CRL contain challenges and flaws related the issue of land tenure. At consultations of stakeholders it was agreed that the CRL should cover only community rights to access, use and manage forest resources not land ownership which should be dealt with by the Land Commission already established by Legislative Act of 2009. The CRL mandates the establishment of Community Assembles and Management Committees for the management of community lands and forest resources. The FDA has commenced the development of regulations to implement the CRL. The regulations are intended to correct some of the flaws of the CRL therefore direct interpretation of some aspects of the law may be problematic and may require advice from FDA.
The NRFL also mandated a comprehensive Wildlife Law to be enacted. In recognition that Chapters 8 and 9 of the NFRL did not adequately cover best practices and new approaches to conservation, The FDA has drafted a comprehensive Conservation and Wildlife Management Law which is in the process of preparation to be forwarded to the President. Under this draft law protected area network creation process has been expanded to reference community rights and participation.
Liberia Land Commission Act of 2009
Objective is to propose, advocate and coordinate reforms of land policy, laws and programs in Liberia. It does not have adjuratory or implementation role. The goal of the commission is “to develop a comprehensive national land tenure and land use system that will provide equitable access to land and security of tenure so as to facilitate inclusive sustained growth and development, ensure peace and security and provide sustainable management of the environment” (Land Commission 2009)
Other Environmental Legislation and Policy
In addition to national legislation and policy relating to socio-economic development, land tenure, labor laws, health and safety, community rights, Liberia is a party to a range of international conventions, a number of which have relevance to the proposed investment initiative including the:
Convention on Biological Diversity (UN, 1992a),
African Convention on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (OAU, 1968),
Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (UNEP, 2001),
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (UN, 1976)
Liberia Social Legislation
The Liberia Social Legislation is derived from the commitment to attain social rights and equality for all citizens. Liberia seeks to adhere to its commitment to global, regional and sub-regional human rights instruments - treaties, conventions – that it is party to. The critical aspect of Liberia’s social legislation is derived from its Constitution. A key aspect of this is the recognition of customary law. Therefore, customs are a recognized source of law in Liberia. This is captured in Article 2 of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, statutory laws and common law of the formal legal system govern all Liberians. According to Article 65 of Chapter V11 of the Liberian Constitution, the courts are empowered to apply statutory law as well as customary law in accordance with the standards enacted by the Legislature. Local Commissions and Superintendents perform the functions of executive oversight over customary law in Liberia.
Probably the most significant area of Liberian legislation of relevance to the social impact assessment concerns land tenure. There is significant legal confusion over the status of customary land tenure with various contradictory laws on the statute. A Land Commission is being set up and the Community Rights Law currently being formulated is to resolve this situation and this may have important implications for the development of the tree crop sector.
Under national legislation, customary users of land do not hold legal title to the land, and therefore have no rights under the law and occupy the lands at their own risk, unless arrangements for such are detailed in the concession agreement. Nevertheless, prior to granting concession agreement it is expected of the concession holder (Government of Liberia) to negotiate with the respective legal representatives of the communities.
This stated property law recognizes tenancy by suffrage by which a ‘squatter’ may have the permission of the owner without a lease. All squatters who had sought permission from their respective city, district, and township authorities have a right to notification before they are removed and Common law, ‘squatters’ are usually given 30 days before eviction.
Liberia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1979. It has also ratified the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa (2005). The country has also made commitments to the implementation of the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action in 1993 and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action in 1995. Liberia is Party to the African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality signed in 2004 and is signatory to the Millennium Declaration which makes clear the Millennium Development Goals with its economic, social and cultural underpinnings.
Other Relevant International Best Practice Standards
In addition to adherence to the World Bank Safeguard Policies and the relevant national legislation, best practice for projects in emerging economies is generally informed by those of the international financing organizations. Prime among these are the various guidelines, policies, performance standards and directives to ensure that environmental and social safeguards are integrated into the planning and implementation of the projects financed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) which are widely considered to set the international benchmark standards across a range of industries. These include:
The Eight Performance Standards on Social and Environmental Sustainability (IFC, 2006)
Performance Standard 1: Social & Environmental Assessment & Management System
Performance Standard 2: Labor and Working Conditions
Performance Standard 3: Pollution Prevention and Abatement
Performance Standard 4: Community Health, Safety and Security
Performance Standard 5: Land Acquisition and Involuntary Resettlement
Performance Standard 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Natural Resource Management
Performance Standard 7: Indigenous Peoples
Performance Standard 8: Cultural Heritage
Guidance Notes and reference documents (IFC, 2007a). These are companion documents to the Performance Standards providing guidance in meeting the standards
Environmental, Health and Safety Guidelines (IFC, 2007b).
Guidance and standards for drinking water quality have been taken from the World Health Organization (WHO) standards (WHO, 2006); and
RSPO and similar environmental and social guidelines for sustainable production and processing.
At a wider level are the United Nations (UN) Global Compact, which commits development to ten key principles in the areas of human rights, labor and the environment5. Others include the:
International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA) Best Practice Principles on Biodiversity-Inclusive Impact Assessment (IAIA, 2005); and
Business and Biodiversity Offset Program (BBOP) principles on biodiversity offsets (BBOP, undated).
The IAIA’s Best Practice Principles and emerging guidance from BBOP both stress the need to achieve ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity and to take a precautionary approach in cases where important biodiversity is at risk and level of knowledge is low.
In determining important biodiversity, reference should be made to criteria used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) [in particular it’s Red List of Threatened Species] and Conservation International’s Biodiversity Hotspots and Birdlife International’s Important Bird Areas.