Liberia: Illegal Logging Poses Greater Threat to Liberia’s Forest

A fresh report released by the environmental watchdog Global Witness indicates that illegal logging in Liberia is posing greater threat to the country’s forest.

The Global Witness’ report, which states that illegal logging is robbing several people in Liberia, Ghana, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, substantiates the group’s earlier report stating that last year in Liberia, “private use permits” were issued on a massive scale, allowing logging companies to claim more than 40 percent of the country’s forests during a two-year period.

However, Global Witness’ team leader for forest sector transparency, David Young, says, although the proportional scale of the problem was biggest in Liberia, the permits also pose a grave threat to Ghana, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Said Young: “The area involved proportionately in Liberia is much greater than in the other countries, so it was a much greater threat to Liberia’s forests. But the systemic nature of them in the other countries, if not controlled, could lead to similar destruction.”

Howbeit, the Global Witness’ team leader for forest sector transparency added: “The good news in Liberia is that the president issued an executive decree in early 2013 to completely close down the private use permits, and she has promised criminal investigations and prosecutions where necessary. But that was back in January. We’re now in May and we haven’t seen much progress in that investigation and those prosecutions.”

The new Global Witness report says logging firms are secretly given permits for land while many communities in Liberia and the other countries named in the report struggle for timber, adding that high core conspiracy between political leaders, civil servants and various logging companies is systematically robbing thousands of citizens of Liberia and the other countries of their livelihoods.

According to Global Witness, networks of political elites, forestry officials and logging companies are using small-scale permits to circumvent regulations in West and Central Africa, stating in its recently released report that “shadow permits” which were originally intended for small enterprises and community forests, have been co-opted for commercial purposes through corrupt means.

Global Witness in its report intoned that “shadow permits” put the European Union (EU) and the United States (US) at risk of importing illegal timber, thereby urging both the EU and The US to consider any timber logged under “shadow permits” to be high risk and potentially illegal.

Source: Heritage (Monrovia)

Posted by on May 17 2013. Filed under Environment, Features. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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