Top: Eleven contract holders studied in a recent review are not compliant with the laws and regulations of Liberia’s forestry sector. The DayLight/Harry Browne
By Gabriel M. Dixon
Monrovia – A review of forest concessions has found logging companies and the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) violated the sector’s laws.
The report says none of the 11 logging concessions appraised was in good standing with sector laws. It says companies do not hold a forestry license, have a legal corporate identity, or post a performance bond. The review is a requirement under Liberia’s US$150 million agreement with Norway.
The report accuses the FDA of failing to ensure forestry is regulated and sustainably managed.
The FDA could not tell which of more than 70 logging companies are active or have met all legal requirements, it says.
The report, released recently, was produced by Forest Trends, an international organization that focuses on conservation research.
Researchers say the FDA does not have an adequate recordkeeping system to track legal compliance. Researchers had to get information from elsewhere to gather their findings.
The report also focuses on local communities’ benefits from their forests. It says forest people have received only US$3 million for an expected US$21 million in the last 15 years. Most social agreements between logging companies and community forests are not been met due to several reasons, including the lack of oversight and ineffective management systems.
The report points out that the FDA broke its laws and compromised the goal of forestry reforms. It says the agency awarded contracts to unqualified companies and individuals, including those debarred for their participation in the Private Use Permit (PUP) Scandal.
The PUP Scandal remains the biggest in forestry since the end of Liberia’s two timber-fueled civil wars, where over 2.5 million hectares of forestlands were illegally awarded.