Liberia as a whole is considered to be of both local and global importance for its biodiversity as the county is home to several species which are classified as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable by the IUCN. As a result, further expansion of the tree crop sector, unless carefully planned, could have significant potential adverse impacts on the biodiversity of the country and country.
Protected and Sensitive Habitats
There is one National Park (Sapo), four National Forests and three proposed protected areas within or adjacent to the proposed project targeted countries. These are found in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties and are outlined in blue (Sapo), burgundy (National Forests) and orange (proposed protected areas) shown on Figure 2. All of these are considered critical natural habitat for the purposes of World Bank OP 4.04, and therefore no activities that would convert or degrade any parts of them can be supported by STCRSP.
Table 15:Map of Liberian Forest Cover
Assessment of the human environment
Socio-economic studies in the proposed project target areas are being conducted in parallel with this study, (but the results were not available at the time of this report). However, an indication of socio-economic conditions in the proposed project areas can be obtained from the results of a comprehensive socio-economic study of households in the communities around the mine areas in northern Nimba and along the railway corridor through Bong to Buchanan (three of the target counties). This study7 revealed a picture of severe poverty, with high levels of deprivation for all development indicators. It reported that women are particularly badly off, with fewer girls than boys surviving and fewer women than men living into old age. Schooling is limited and literacy low, while access to health care is also poor. Except in the major centers, few households have electricity or running water and only one percent had any form of sanitation. Per capita annual income levels were almost all below the national mean, and averaged only US$79 in the rural “towns” of Nimba (personal communication).
A parallel study8 of agriculture and land tenure in northern Nimba (personal communication) found that land allocation remains strongly dominated by the clan structures. Most rice production is through upland rainfed varieties farmed through shifting cultivation and without any external inputs (i.e. no fertilizers or pesticides). This makes for a laborious undertaking, although local systems of reciprocal labor help mitigate this. Cassava is frequently inter-cropped with the upland rice, while sugar cane and rubber farming provide some diversification. Cocoa, coffee and other minor cash crops are also found in the area.
Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF)
The purpose of an ESMF is to set out practical means of identifying and addressing any negative influences for sub-projects that have uncertainties and where appropriate measures cannot be fully developed at the time of this report. This study has identified the potential environmental and social impacts (both positive and adverse) and provides a general outline plan for the mitigation of the adverse impacts of the known sub-components, how the implementation of each mitigation plan will be monitored, and what resources/actions will be required for effective implementation. The intent is that the ESMF will serve as a template for the Environmental and Social Management Plans that will be prepared for subprojects that will follow, and be a resource for preparation of the actual ESMPs.
Key Components of the ESMF for the STCRSP will need to include:
Assessment of Environmental and Social Impacts
Management of Adverse Environmental and Social Impacts
The Screening Process required to identify and select the various subcomponents according to influencing criteria
An Integrated Pest and Pesticide Management Plan
A Monitoring and Evaluation Plan.
An assessment of the risk of significant conversion or degradation of critical forest and natural habitats areas within, adjacent or downstream of target counties that might occur due to Project activities.
potential Environmental impacts
The proposed revitalization of the tree crops sector is visualized as a two stage process with early emphasis on bringing existing farms and small plantations back into production, improving crop husbandry practices and the availability of processing facilities for small farmers, and building the capacity of all involved in the tree crops sector production chain. This will be followed by a more intensive input phase which will include replanting, higher inputs and value added initiatives.
While in general, the activities of proposed project should have little or no adverse environmental impacts providing ‘best practice’ implementation and management is the rule. The major component of the first phase of the on farm rehabilitation process will be support for under-brushing. This activity will have little if any adverse environmental impact as it involves only the removal of weeds and excess woody-growth and of necessity will be a manual task thus resulting in no disturbance of the soil surface. In parallel, there will be an intensive program of capacity building for the various stakeholder groups. The second phase will focus on increasing overall production though replanting existing farms, increasing farm inputs and introducing value-added initiatives.
Main environmental issues are:
Land clearing and replanting (including new farm/plantation areas)
Waste (liquid and solid) management
Health and Safety issues
Land Clearing and Replanting
The primary adverse environmental impact of the second phase of the proposed project is likely to occur during clearing and replanting of the tree crop plantations in that during this time there will be an increased incidence of disruption to the vegetative cover of the area. This potentially will include loss of income (however small) to those families that have been harvesting the old crop, loss of biodiversity habitat on overgrown farms as a result of land clearing, and where contractors are employed, increased traffic in the local community. A major potential adverse impact could result if significant soil erosion occurs during the period between land clearing and re-vegetation of the cleared areas, and consequent downstream contamination. This concern also applies where new land is taken to expand the tree crop production area.
Where clearing is done in dry season, any disturbance of the land surface will leave the land exposed to the heavy early rains of the wet season and thus to soil erosion and consequent run-off to local waterways. Such erosion will not only represent a loss of growing media for the farmer, but will also result in increase sedimentation loads in streams and rivers leading away from the rehabilitation area with consequent downstream impacts on aquatic flora and fauna as well all who access the drainage system for their water supply and livelihoods.
In the event that current tree crop farmers are supported in expanding their land areas or that new farmers are included in the program, then new areas of planting will need to be identified, cleared and planted, and supporting infrastructure put in place. Given that OP 4.04 and particularly OP 4.36 make clear that the World Bank’s strong preference for new plantations is not to site them on land that has good quality forest, such area expansion will need to be into traditionally farmed areas (i.e. in former fields now lying fallow though there may be an option to use recently logged forest areas. Where this is the case, the potential environmental impacts will be more significant on biodiversity and wildlife habitat, than in the current tree crop farms but not of the same magnitude of mature secondary or primary forest. Adverse impacts on the latter would indeed be significant.
The overall impact of the project on the natural environment is not easily forecast or described. One uncertainty is whether or not farmers will give up the traditional annual slash and burn system when the demands of managing a tree crop farm means they will not have the time/labor to make new farms and should have the income to buy rice and other foods.
Crop processing, particularly in the Rubber and Oil Palm sub-sectors also has the potential for significant adverse environmental impacts, the magnitude depending on the type and quantity of emissions (liquid and gaseous) and solid waste produced, and whether or not these impacts are managed (avoided or mitigated).
While ultimately there is a possibility that small rubber farmers will be supported in some level of processing, for the foreseeable future all processing will be done by the participating Rubber Concession Factories. Thus while field level impacts will be the same in both the small holder and plantation sectors, any processing impacts will be concentrated in a few widely separated locations (i.e. Maryland, Bong and Magribi Counties).
For the Oil Palm sub-sector, two forms of processing [plantation scale factories and small village mills] will continue to exist. As with the Rubber sub-sector, the Oil Palm plantation sector is being encouraged participate in the project through supporting small farmer out-growers, including processing their production. However, there is already some processing done by farm and village level facilities, and as a result of the project there is likely to be a significant increase in the use of small mills.
Currently there is no environmental impact mitigation where farm and village level processing occurs while with the exception of Alternative Enterprise International (AEI), all the Concessions have well established processing facilities and have environmental management plans in place, though none are yet fully compliant with the EPA requirements. They all profess intent is to achieve full compliance in the near future. This intent is driven by shareholder pressure and the increasing ability of the EPA to award fines for non-compliance. AEI plans to install a factory and Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) is planning to install a larger one in the immediate future. Both will require new environmental management plans.
The potential environmental impacts from traditional village extraction and Freedom Mill processing of oil palm are minimal since currently the process uses only minimal quantities of local natural resources (water and firewood) and manual labor. In future the mills are likely to be engine driven and will likely increase in size, resulting in the use of petroleum products and generation of larger quantities of effluent. Thus where district level processing is established, these facilities should be subjected to the same environmental management requirements as the Concessions (i.e. have a monitored emissions management plan).
Currently what little processing that occurs in the Cocoa and Coffee sub-sectors [basically breaking of the cocoa pods/pulping coffee berries air drying of the beans] has negligible environmental impact. If and when value added processing is added (i.e. roasting, grinding, packaging) to these sub-sectors. There are unlikely to be any potential adverse impacts from such processing though this should be verified in the case of any liquid effluent. Solid waste will be the hulls/husks which can be returned to the field as mulch.
Tree crop rehabilitation in Liberia will require increased use of a range of agro-chemicals to control pest and diseases as well as enhance soil fertility. Agro-chemicals that will be used include:
Type of Chemical
All crop subsectors will be involved, but the main subsector where agro-chemical control is likely to be most used will be Cocoa where there is endemic infestation of two diseases [Black Pod (Phytophthora palmivoraor the more virulent Phytophthora megakarya) and Swollen Shoot (Sahlbergella singularis or Distantiella theobroma)]. Treatment of these two infestations in particular will be a priority if this component of the project is to be successful. Potential adverse impacts centre on the handling and storage of these chemicals and can be minimized, if not avoided by good management and equipment.
Potential environmental impacts from tree crop nurseries will be similar to farm/plantation impacts (i.e. land clearing, pest and disease control) with the possible exception that irrigation will be required should large scale district nurseries be established. Nurseries on this scale will require large quantities of water during the dry season and thus storage reservoirs will need to be constructed and engine driven pumps installed, both of which will carry potential adverse environmental impacts. They will also require chemical handling facilities, and may also require initial land clearing. The most probable water reservoir will be located within the channel of a suitable stream, which will have potential adverse impacts to downstream users as well as disruption and possible contamination during dam construction.
The feeder roads component may be included the revitalization of any of the target areas and while it may involve new road construction, will mainly be improvement of existing roads, particularly replacement of culverts and bridges. This component has the potential for adverse impacts on adjacent natural habitat, while at the same time has the potential for significant positive impacts to farmers and communities via improved access to markets. For the most part rehabilitation of the feeder roads, if done with care, will not impact adversely on the surrounding environment. The exception will be where new road is constructed, particularly where it opens access to remote natural areas, or where the contractor clears more vegetation than necessary or allows contamination of the drainage ways when reconstructing the culverts and bridges.
Crop Handling and Storage
It is proposed that warehouses be constructed at district level to receive, store and dispatch cocoa/coffee beans. They are likely to be located on the edge of the district market town and perhaps include additional social amenity space (i.e. administrative, equipment storage and washing facilities, perhaps even community latrines). Potential adverse environmental impacts will be mainly during construction (i.e. noise, dust, equipment movement) and thus will be temporary. With the Oil Palm and Rubber Plantation sector handling the majority of the processing, farmers will deliver their fruit bunches and latex direct to the factories and thus there will be little requirement for village/district level storage.
Health and Safety issues
Within any plantation there is always the possibility of accidents (i.e. exposure to pesticides,. splash of latex serum in the eye of a rubber-tapper, cuts from sharp harvesting and maintenance equipment, falling trees or branches), With training and experience, accidents can be minimized.
This component envisages revitalization of existing coffee plantations through:
manual under-brushing, weeding and pruning without any application of agro-chemicals; and
promoting improved coffee marketing and value addition, including small scale processing (i.e. coffee powder) using adapted technologies.
On smallholder coffee farms, the potential adverse environmental impacts of coffee production will be very low as no agro-chemicals or replanting is included in the revitalization package. Currently what little processing that occurs in the Coffee sub-sector [basically removal of the berry pulp and air drying of the beans] has no environmental impact. The potential for adverse environmental impacts where additional post harvest processing (i.e. value added initiatives such as roasting, grinding, and packaging) is introduced should also be low and easily managed (i.e. liquid effluent treatment, return of pulp to fields as organic supplement). The location of potentially significant adverse impacts will be where land is cleared to replant old or start new coffee farms or large scale nurseries.
Smallholder Cocoa Revitalization [Sub-Component 1.1]
This component envisages revitalization of existing cocoa gardens through:
manual under brushing, weeding, pruning, reducing the shade followed by either the application of limited amounts of fungicides and insecticides, but no fertilizer, or regular applications each year of fungicides and insecticides together with the high application of fertilizers;
supporting new plantings;
promoting improved cocoa marketing and value addition, including small scale processing (i.e. into cocoa butter or cocoa liquor) using adapted technologies; and
promoting the development of village nurseries and the maintenance of seed gardens.
The potential adverse environmental impacts in smallholder cocoa gardens will be low even though agro-chemicals are included in the revitalization, and where present can be effectively managed by properly trained and equipped owners/workers. Old Cocoa in Liberia is highly infested by Swollen Shoot (Sahlbergella singularis or Distantiella theobroma) and Black Pod (Phytophthora palmivora or the more virulent Phytophthora megakarya) and thus any rehabilitation will need to pay particular attention to these two problems as a priority if this component of the project is to be successful. The potential for adverse environmental impact where additional post harvest processing (i.e. value added initiatives such as roasting, grinding, packaging) is introduced should also be low and easily managed. The activities that could lead to significant adverse impacts will be where land is cleared to replant old or start new cocoa gardens, seed gardens/nurseries.
Smallholder Oil Palm Revitalization [Sub-Component 1.2]
This component envisages revitalization of existing oil palm plantations through:
clearing the undergrowth (under brushing), weeding around the trees and between the rows, and applying fertilizers;
supporting replanting of smallholder oil palm;
supporting the organization of farmers’ groups and the provision of training and technical advice to small farmers;
limited rehabilitation of access roads and related small bridges and drainage structures wherever it is critical to provide access to farmer groups; and
the promotion of small scale processing facilities for farmers where no mills are present and/or facilitate access to small scale processing technology and finance for interested private investors (SMEs), in collaboration with commercial banks and guarantee or equity funds.
The potential adverse environmental impacts of oil palm production on smallholder farms will be low, even though agro-chemicals are included in the revitalization, and where present can be effectively managed by properly trained and equipped owners/workers. The potential environmental impacts from traditional village extraction and Freedom Mill processing of oil palm are minimal since currently the process uses only local natural resources (water and firewood) and manual labor, though there is evidence of effluent pollution in adjacent water sources. In future there is likely to be an increase in the number of small-scale mills and these are also likely to increase in size and be engine driven, resulting in the use of petroleum products and generating larger quantities of effluent. Potential adverse impacts from Concession processing is also low and is likely to remain so as this Sector, for the most part, has well established processing facilities with environmental management plans in place. The activities that may lead to adverse impacts will be (as stated in Section 4.4.1) where land is cleared to replant old or start new oil palm farms/plantations, during road/bridge rehabilitation, and increased village/district processing.
Smallholder Rubber Revitalization [Sub-Component 1.3]
This component envisages revitalization of existing rubber plantations through:
new planting targeting smallholders who already have some rubber plots as well as newcomers in the sector, particularly women and youth;
the provision of training and technical advice to smallholders (including for tapping techniques) and supporting the organization of farmers’ groups in rubber growing areas; and
limited rehabilitation of farm access roads and related small bridges and drainage structures wherever it is critical to provide access to participating farmer groups.
The potential adverse environmental impacts of rubber production on smallholder farms will be low, even though agro-chemicals are included in the revitalization, and where present can be effectively managed by properly trained and equipped owners/workers. There are currently no smallholder processing facilities, nor are these envisaged within the proposed program. Potential adverse impacts from Concession processing is also low and is likely to remain so as this Sector, for the most part, has well established processing facilities with environmental management plans in place. The activities that could lead to adverse impacts will be (as stated in Section 4.4.1) where land is cleared to replant old or start new rubber farms/plantations or seed gardens/nurseries, and during road/bridge rehabilitation.
Institutional Capacity Building [Component 2]
This component consists of:
Capacity building of MoA, CDA, CAC, EPA9 and Land Commission target technical staff involved in the project planning, coordination and monitoring and evaluation (M&E)
Support to adaptive tree crops research.
Support to the MoA Program Management Unit (PMU).
Assuming that this component has been comprehensively implemented (i.e. that the key institutions involved in the smallholder tree crop sector should be strengthened in all their responsibilities and activities to the benefit of the whole industry, the environmental impacts of the initiatives should be indirectly significantly positive.
Project Coordination, Management, Monitoring and Evaluation [Component 3]
This will comprise two main groups of activities:
Support to Steering Bodies, including: the organization of project launching workshops at county and national level and supporting regular coordination County level meetings of representatives from all stakeholders involved in the agricultural sector and particularly in tree crops development; and
Support to the Project Coordination Unit (PCU), including the establishment of the project M&E system to integrated within the overall PMU’s and MoA’s M&E systems, carrying out necessary baseline studies per project site and/or per thematic area, and annual participatory planning and evaluation workshops with beneficiaries and other stakeholders at county and district levels.
The environmental impacts of this components initiative should be indirectly positive as a result of supporting the project management structure.
Fire Probably the most serious risk within the smallholder tree crop sector is fire, particularly when it is used in the land clearing process, either by the farmer him/herself or neighbors. Hunters also use fire and may be less careful than farmers in its use. Rural communities have very little resources in terms of fighting fire. Fire is more lethal during the dry season when the winds tend to be stronger.
Climate Change Climate change is an area of increasing concern worldwide. As yet there is not a strong indication of significant climate change in Liberia, but should this be expressed by a significant change in the distribution of rainfall during the rainy season and/or an increase in the length of the dry season this could seriously affect crop yields as the target tree crops require high, evenly spread rainfall for optimum production.
Capacity Building Since the target communities as well as their supporting institutions require significant capacity building for the proposed project to succeed, and failure on part of the PIU and its partners to provide adequate training and guidance could hamper the success this initiative. Coupled with this is the potential inability of the beneficiaries to fully comprehend and apply the provided training.
Residual Effects While there will be an increased use of agro-chemicals by farmers participating in the proposed project, the type and amounts of these likely to be applied (particularly with emphasis on IPM) should not result in significant residual deposition of some compounds provided that the training program in storage, handling and use of agro-chemicals is rigorous and closely monitored.