Liberia Loosing 24,000,000 ACRES Yearly

...Says UNDP Official

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 9, 2003

The UNDP Resident Representative to Liberia, Mr. Marc Destanne de Bernis says Liberia’s rich biodiversity is being seriously threatened.

Mr. de Bernis said uncontrolled logging, traditional shifting cultivation, mining and human settlements constitute major challenges to the preservation of the country’s biodiversity.

The UNDP boss added that Liberia’s forest is being cleared without matching replacement while at the same time, deforestation rate is being estimated at 2 percent of the land area of 24,000,000 acres.

According to him, this means that 480,000 acres of forest land is lost every year due to logging and shifting cultivation, while government has replanted 25,000 acres since the inception of government’s reforestation program in 1971.

Mr. de Bernis made these assertions on Monday, when he delivered the keynote address at the commencement of a three-day workshop organized under the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, at the St. Theresa’s Pastoral Retreat Center on Randall Street, Monrovia.

Addressing a cross-section of members of the diplomatic corps, the UN System, representatives of academic community, the civil society, among others, the UNDP boss urged the Liberian government to take the necessary actions to ensure the preservation of the biodiversity system of the country in accordance with convention it has ratified.

Mr. de Bernis said the long term development of the entire nation should not be sacrificed for what he termed "a short-term economic interests."

He further called on the government to ensure that logging companies operating in the country, respect forestry regulations, and must apply sanctions to those companies that fail to follow the forestry laws.

He said the international community is also concerned over the fact that the reforestation fees being paid monthly by logging companies operating in the country are apparently not reinvested into forest conservation as is required by the International Tropical Timber Treaty which was signed by Liberia.

The UN envoy used the occasion to call on the national legislature to ensure that all timber concession agreements are ratified in keeping with law.

According to him, a number of areas that were designated as protected areas since the late 1970s are yet to be confirmed, a situation which has left the Sapo Natioal Park as the only protected area in Liberia.

He said the international community expected that the government will officially declare areas such as Cestos, Senkwehn, Lake Piso and Wologize as protected areas and officially create the Sapo-Grebo Extension as was promised by government to the international community in 2002.

On behalf of government, the Deputy Minister of Planing for Sectional and Regional Planning, Abraham Kromah thanked the organizers for the workshop.

Mr. Kroma said among other things that government was committed to paying its contribution under the project in the shortest possible time. He deputized for Planning and Economic Affairs Minister, Dr. Roland Massaquoi.

The workshop is funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) and is being implemented by the UNDP and executed by NECOLIB.

One hundred and fifty multi-sectoral partners are attending the workshop.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.