FDA Seeks Lifting of Sanctions on Timber

By: Martin C. Benson

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted June 1, 2004

The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), Mr. Dean Eugene Wilson has extended an appeal to the United Nations Security Council(UNSC) to lift the sanctions on Liberia’s timber sector.

Delivering the keynote address during a Scholarship Fund Drive of the College of Agriculture and Forestry Students Association (CAFSA) at the University of Liberia on Friday, Mr. Wilson said the National Transitional Government of Liberia(NTGL) has effected the necessary reforms of the forest sector and provided resources to build the capacity of the FDA.

He also said the NTGL through the FDA, is also committed to making communities benefit and encouraging responsible commercial harvesting.

The UNSC imposed sanction on Liberia’s timber during the Taylor regime, for what it termed as “lack of transparency and accountability in the industry”.

However since its inception, the NTGL has been instituting some forest reform program, so FDA Managing Director believes the continuous imposition of the sanctions no longer serves any purpose as its original intent and purposes have been served.

“The sanction serves no purpose,” Mr. Wilson stressed0and added, “quite realistically, the forest of Liberia has been placed at risk due to continuous imposition of sanction. Looting of timber from concession areas through pit-sawing, slashing and burning of our timber species; exploitation of our wide life heritage; and the lack of protection of our National Parks, proclaimed and protected areas due to the shut down of the sector.”

The FDA boss emphatically stated that the continued imposition of the sanction jeopardizes all interest of our communities, conservation and the commercial interest, as our parks, wildlife and endangered biodiversity remain vulnerable.

He cautioned Liberians to desist from further politicization of the issue of sanctions and realize its adverse reality and how the lives of Liberians in the rural areas are being affected, emphasizing that many residents of the capital have not visited any town or village outside of Monrovia to see the realities of our rural communities, adding “there is a total collapse of all rural economy of our country, there are no schools, hospitals, clinics, safe roads, safe drinking water, or any impact of good governance experienced by the Government of Liberia.”

“At present, the timber industry provides the most logical and fastest means of providing jobs and resuscitating the rural economy. Our government remains totally incapacitated to address the inherent requirement for good governance and the provision for children,” Mr. Wilson declared.

Under the revitalized Forestry Development Authority, Mr. Wilson said all four existing regional offices and a newly established office in Maryland county are working, whilst the review of all concessions has been completed and clearance will be issued to 24 out of 30 companies pending settlement agreement of indebtedness to the Government of Liberia. Also, the FDA boss iterated that the NTGL has opened a separate timber revenue account and that a separate account for reforestation and conservation purposes with oversight responsibility by the Country Director of Conservation International, the Timber Association President and the managing director of the FDA.

“To the UN Security Council, help us to begin to help ourselves, lift the sanctions and provide us the necessary experts to help us continue the reform process and effect the necessary controls that will allow us to be transparent and honest stewards of the manifold resources that God has endowed upon our nation and its people”, Mr. Wilson added

Meanwhile, as the United Nations Security Councils debates whether to lift or maintain the timber sanction imposed on Liberia, the FDA Managing Director Wilson left the country over the weekend to join NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant and entourage in the United States of America where he Chairman Bryant is expected to address the UN Security Council on the need to lift the timber sanctions imposed since July 2003.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.