FDA forms joint task force to address illegal logging
By Kruah Thompson
The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, Mike Doryen, has announced the formation of a joint national task force to control illicit or illegal logging in Liberia.
Mr. Mike made the disclosure on Friday, February 3, 2023, during the launch of the 2023 climate change and resilient forum at the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf ministerial complex in Congo Town.
According to him, to enhance transparency in the forest sector here, the committee comprising all law enforcement agencies, civil society organizations, and the media will work along with development partners as advisors and observers to have this achieved.
He revealed that the ministry of foreign affairs and other key ministries will also be on the taskforce.
Director Doryen also said intelligence and information sharing, joint patrol or monitoring, and accommodation, among others, will assist the committee’s efforts to address some of the issues partner has pondered over the period.
He called for continuous engagement from the media to notify the public whenever concern arises about illegal logging. “When we drag our feet, let us know and together we can make a better forest sector.” He urged.
Additionally, he said the FDA has hired the services of a law firm to address cases involving registered logging companies.
However, he observed that the issue of illegal logging begins at the community level because business owners intentionally pay money to community leaders to engage in illegal logging and bring the booty to town for sale.
He called on superintendents, county commissioners, and local authorities not to yield to the temptation of taking money from those involved with illegal logging.
He stressed that the taskforce will operate outside already existing VPA arrangements.
In May 2011, the European Union and the Government of Liberia concluded a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) under the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance, and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan towards tackling illegal logging and associated trade.
The agreement commits the Liberian government to develop and implement systems to ensure that timber exported to the European Union comes from legal sources.
The VPA also commits the country to reform its governance to secure long-term sustainability of Liberia’s forest sector while contributing to national economic development.
Also in 2013, the former U.K. Department for International Development (now called the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) and the European Union established the VPA Support Unit, a co-financing arrangement between EU and DFID with approximately EUR 20 million to provide Liberia with technical assistance and guidance to meet its VPA obligations.
The objective of the VPA-Support Unit is to contribute to the development of Liberia’s forest sector so that it plays a key role in the country’s sustainable socio-economic development, poverty reduction, and economic growth, and reducing the risk of civil conflict through improvements in forest governance and sustainable forest management.
However, Director Doryen indicated that under the VPA arrangement, they have a clear procedure and transparent instrument to address issues of illegal logging.
“What we are referring to is the result of what we are experiencing.” he indicated.
According to him, some time ago Liberia’s forest was estimated to have three million hackers, but current study shows that Liberia has 6.6 hackers, adding “So we need to stop cutting the trees in our backyard.” Editing by Jonathan Browne