The headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency of Liberia in Sinkor. The DayLight/Mark B. Newa
By Esau J. Farr
MONROVIA – The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has disapproved of carbon credit negotiations between an American-owned company BlueEarth Capital and rural communities following an investigation by The DayLight that exposed irregularities with the deal.
“[The EPA] has thus issued an immediate resolute call to all communities involved in discussions with the company (BlueEarth) to cease all engagements without delay or risk drastic actions,” said the agency in a statement over the weekend.
“EPA’s involvement and approval are non-negotiable pre-requisites in carbon credit deals in Liberia,” it added.
The agency further expressed “profound dismay” over the ongoing illegal carbon negotiations between BlueEarth Capital and residents of Ziadue Clan, River Cess County.
The release came on the back of a DayLight story on BlueEarth’s proposed MoU with Ziadue to save carbon credits on more than 55,000 hectares of forestland.
The DayLight reported a number of illegalities associated with the proposed deal.
The investigation showed BlueEarth induced community leaders to consent to the deal by underwriting their transportation and food costs.
It proved that ordinary townspeople and some community leaders were still unaware of the deal despite emerging in March, a violation of locals’ right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC). (FPIC is guaranteed in the Community Rights Law, the Land Rights Act, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples)
The deal sought over 55,000 hectares, more than 8,000 hectares of the uncontracted area Ziadue has.
It was illegally intended to last for 25 years, 10 more than the legal duration of a community forest contract, based on the Community Rights Law.
EPA, one of the agencies responsible for regulating the carbon industry, said it was caught unaware by The DayLight’s investigation.
“Their intent is to exploit these forests for carbon harvesting and subsequent trading of carbon credits on the international market,” it said. BlueEarth has also engaged communities in Nimba, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu.
Ziadue Clan’s land leadership said they would now focus on getting its ancestral land deed, a process it has almost completed.
“We are customary people. What we are running after now is our confirmatory survey to get a deed from the Liberia Land Authority (LLA),” said Emmanuel Roberts, the chairman of the Ziadue’s community land development management committee (CLDMC).
“If we have anything to do with BlueEarth Capital, it will not be hidden from the national government, civil society organizations and our consultant.”
Augustine Jarrett, BlueEarth’s American owner and former presidential adviser, did not answer questions for comments on the matter. However, he defended his institution in a statement on Monday evening.
“We are deeply committed to the principles of transparency, integrity, and community engagement,” Jarrett said.