Quantcast
Connect with us

Report: Liberian forests sold off in secret logging contracts

Published

on

Forty percent of Liberia’s forests have been sold off in secretive and often illegal contracts, Global Witness said Tuesday, just days after the country’s president announced a probe into the issuing of logging permits.

An investigation by the London-based natural resource watchdog has shown how, despite efforts to reform the country’s logging sector, companies have used a legal loophole to score contracts covering a quarter of the nation’s landmass.

ADVERTISEMENT

The report comes after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced on Friday an independent probe into the controversial permits, after suspending the managing director of the Forestry Development Authority, Moses Wogbeh.

“The new logging contracts termed Private Use Permits now cover 40 percent of Liberia’s forests and almost half of Liberia’s best intact forests,” said a press release from Global Witness.

“They have given companies linked to notorious Malaysian logging giant Samling unparalleled access to some of Liberia’s most pristine forests.”

Samling and its subsidiaries have been involved in cases of illegal logging from Cambodia to Guyana to Papua New Guinea.

The Private Use Permits were designed to allow private land owners to cut trees on their property. But the investigation found that the 66 permits that have been issued are in fact allowing logging companies to sneak past Liberia’s carefully crafted forest laws and regulations.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Companies holding these permits are not required to log sustainably and pay little in compensation to either the Liberian government or the people who own the forests for the right to export valuable tropical timber,” Global Witness said.

“Private Use Permits are great news for logging companies. They are very bad news for pretty much everybody else in Liberia,” said Robert Nyahn of Save My Future Foundation, which also took part in the investigation.

Liberia’s forests make up 42 percent of what is left of the Upper Guinean Rainforest – just part of a fragmented system that once covered most of west Africa but has been reduced to 12 percent of its original reach.

ADVERTISEMENT

Deforestation has been alarming, with 70 percent of the population involved in slash-and-burn farming, the country’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told AFP in 2010.

While the use of “blood diamonds” to fund wars in the region is better known, it was timber that propped up armed factions, notably those of former president Charles Taylor, during 14 years of Liberian conflict that left over 250,000 people dead from 1989 to 2003.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the nine years since the end of the conflict the Liberian government and international partners have worked hard to reform the industry, with the United States giving $30 million to help communities manage their forest resources.

The EU and the Liberian government have also recently negotiated a trade agreement meant to ensure that Liberia provides legal timber to European markets.

United Nations sanctions on the country’s timber industry were lifted in 2006 and the government issued new licences covering nine percent of the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Global Witness said these new contracts have failed to deliver the promised benefits to the Liberian people and that many of these companies owe significant back taxes.

Silas Siakor of Liberia’s Sustainable Development Institute said recent statements by the president on the logging scandal were “promising.”

“Too frequently, those who abuse Liberia’s natural resources have not been held to account,” he was quoted as saying in the Global Witness press statement, calling for a comprehensive independent investigation.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s 2010 deforestation report, Africa has lost 3.4 million hectares (8.4 million acres) of forest in the past 10 years.

ADVERTISEMENT

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump supporter complains about being socially toxic: ‘People unfriend you’

Published

on

Fox News anchor Jeanine Pirro on Saturday complained about being judged by the content of her character.

"People unfriend you!' Pirro complained. "They don't want you to be a -- they don't want to communicate with you."

"People I've had at my wedding don't talk -- my children's weddings actually, they don't talk to me anymore," she explained.

"It's not usually the right or the left, I mean, the intolerance is on the left," she argued.

The longtime Trump friend was harshly criticized for her complaints. Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/1282132522332282880

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Trump disappointed conservative media isn’t praising him enough for letting Roger Stone walk: report

Published

on

President Donald Trump has been disappointed in right-wing media for not giving him more credit for pardoning longtime advisor Roger Stone.

"A senior administration official said there were serious divisions among Trump’s aides and allies over Stone’s case, with some cautioning that keeping him out of prison could be politically risky. Among those opposed was Attorney General William P. Barr, who called the prosecution 'righteous' in an interview Wednesday with ABC News, the official said, adding that those pushing Trump to show loyalty to Stone included Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), who is close to the president," The Washington Post reported Saturday.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

WATCH: GOP congressman suffers coughing fit — while praising Trump at mask-optional GOP convention

Published

on

Republicans in the swing state of Wisconsin gathered in Green bay for a mask-optional convention on Saturday.

"Speakers at the convention also praised Trump's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the president's push to reopen the nation's economy and schools. More than 300 people attended the GOP state convention, with few in attendance wearing face masks, as [recommended] by public health officials," the State Journal reported Saturday.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image