Top: A kpokolo operation site in Gbaryama, Gbarpolu County. The DayLight/James Harding Giahyue

By James Harding Giahyue

MONROVIA – The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has banned the transport of squared timbers, commonly called “kpokolo,” to curtail illegal exports.  

In Kpokolo logging operations, individuals sign agreements with villagers to harvest logs, and mill them into thick, heavy timber blocks. The woods are then packed into containers and smuggled out of the country.

The illegal activities —alongside other illegalities—have rocked the forestry sector, bringing Liberian timber once more to international disrepute.  

“We have ordered all our checkpoint staff members to stop the issuance of waybills for all sawn timbers with a thickness above two inches because this is the dimensional range of thickness that is prone to illegal exportation,” said Edward Kamara, FDA’s manager for forest marketing and revenue forecast. He was responding to an email inquiry by The DayLight after reports of a likely ban on the activities began to emerge.

Kamara said the ban does not cover similar timbers produced by licensed sawmills, which resize timbers to meet local customers’ demand. He said the FDA had allowed chainsaw millers to also trade the woods locally but they went beyond their limits.  

“It had been observed that most of the timber arrested for attempting to illegally export consisted of these dimensions,” Kamara told The DayLight. “Therefore, it is the chainsaw milling block wood… that is banned to be brought to the market, especially in Monrovia.”

Kamara did not say when was the ban imposed but rangers and kpokolo producers had put it to as early as September last year.

The announcement of the ban comes barely five months after the first report on kpokolo emerged in the press.

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