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On 7 March 2018, a team of technical experts gathered at the FAO Office in Monrovia to discuss the design of the first National Forest Reference Emission Level (FREL) of Liberia. The meeting was organised by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in collaboration with REDD+ and hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the context of their support in establishing a baseline of emissions and removals accounting for the REDD+ activities and performance of the country. The support by FAO to the FDA to support the submission of the FREL is funded by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (World Bank) in close collaboration with Norway. At the meeting, the technical experts represented various forestry-related institutions, among them - the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Forestry Training Institute (FTI).

Liberia is a country with a significant amount of the Guinean Forest and covers more than 40% of the country. For decades, Liberia had experienced low deforestation rates, but due to recent economic recovery, the forestry sector is in a reform phase. Recently, the sector has increased its investments in commercial forest activities while not always stressing the importance of forest conservation. In the cases like these, reference level becomes a useful tool to measure commercial forestry, conservation and community management as an attempt to reduce deforestation, forest degradation and improve enhancement and conservation (REDD+ activities).

A national forest reference emission level is one of the elements to be developed by developing countries implementing REDD+ activities. Reference levels are expressed as tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year for a reference period against which the emissions and removals from a results period will be compared. Thus, FREL serves as benchmarks for assessing each country’s performance in implementing REDD+ activities.

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