MONROVIA – The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) says it has uncovered chains of clandestine and unwholesome acts of illegal harvesting and processing of logs around the country, especially in Nimba County and western Liberia.
It can be recalled that earlier in August 2023, the FDA rangers intercepted four container trucks conveying illegal wood to the Freeport of Monrovia. During the last month, two trucks bringing semi-processed timber, locally referred to as “Kpacolo,” was intercepted in Nimba County with the alleged perpetrators on the run.
According to the FDA in a release issued in Monrovia, it intercepted two container trucks conveying Kpacolo from western Liberia to the Freeport of Monrovia for export. In the wake of these chains of illegal activities, the FDA says it has informed state securities, including the Liberian National Police, of these troubling developments and is increasing its collaboration with justice actors to swiftly investigate these illegal acts to deter all those bent on perpetrating these acts.
The FDA alarmed that there continues to be the incidence of illicit logging perpetrated by Liberians and foreigners, including a Chinese National accused of being associated with the incident in Nimba.
In the latest incidence, two trucks with forty-foot containers bearing illegally harvested wood were intercepted on October 24, 2022, by FDA Officers while entering the premises of the Freeport of Monrovia. The drivers of the trucks identified as Musa Kamara and Mobutu Sackor confessed through a preliminary investigation of smuggling the containers with illegally harvested logs for an unknown person whose name is yet to be disclosed.
“The FDA hereby informs the public that all those interested in commercial forestry activities must be permitted by the proper authorities at the entity consistent with the requirements of the National Forestry Reform Law and the Community Rights Law of Liberia,” the statement said.
The FDA warned, “Any one engaged in commercial activities outside of this framework will experience the full weight of the Law. Our rangers and forest law enforcement officers will remain robust in handling violations.”
The FDA also informs trucking business owners and the Port Trucker Association to refrain from conveying forest products to the Ports or other destinations without a valid export permit or forest waybills evidencing the legality of the wood. According to the forest management body, doing so may result in forfeiture of the trucks under Section 20.2 of the National Forestry Reform Law.
It called on the public to communicate any strange movement of harvesting of logs to its regional foresters, forest rangers, or the nearest national security personnel to report the incidence of illegal harvesting or transporting of logs.
Meanwhile, FDA Managing Director C. Mike Doryen, who is attending a climate change summit out of the country, has described the move by the forest officers as timely and commendable and mandated that the forest officers increase collaboration with national security actors in combatting illegal activities.