A Liberian lawyer who challenged the destruction of the country’s tropical forests for palm oil plantation has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa.
Alfred Brownell is being recognised for his campaigns to prevent more than 500,000 acres of forest from being cut down by Liberia’s biggest palm oil company, Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL).
Together with local community leaders, Mr Brownell documented the destruction of forests and farmlands in the south-east by GVL.
‘’It’s the time now for big corporations, palm oil companies and investors to invest in communities, to protect them and to empower them’’, he told BBC’s Newsday radio programme.
As a result of his work, the global certification body, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, put a "stop work" order on GVL, freezing any expansion of the palm oil plantations and preventing any further forest clearance.
But it came at a huge cost for Mr Brownell. After facing violence and death threats, he was forced to flee Liberia and is now in exile in the US.
"The real winner of the prize are the communities and its leaders, who have been at the forefront of this struggle to protect the forests," Mr Brownell said.
Listen to the full interview here: