The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has taken serious exception to claims made by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in an open letter from Goldman Prize Laureates about an alleged FDA plan to develop a regulation allowing the destruction of Liberia’s forests.
An FDA statement issued and circulated during the weekend to reporters in Monrovia was signed by Public Affairs and Communications Director, Anthony Fallah Vanwen.
The SDI initially claimed that such a regulation contradicts the Liberian government’s pledge to reduce deforestation and forest degradation as evidenced by its signing of the New York Declaration on Forest in 2014.
Other legal instruments that the FDA continues to forge include Liberia Voluntary Partnership (VPA) with the European Union (EU) and the Letter of Intent with the Kingdom of Norway.
The FDA statement also condemned an article that accompanied the letter on July 11, and published in a local daily in Monrovia.
The statement said the National Forest Policy of Liberia mandates the FDA to sustainably manage the forest resources. “We would therefore not venture into activities aimed at destroying the country’s rich forest,” the statement argued.
The Letter, which alleged FDA planned to destroy the forest, also supports SDI’s call on Liberia to abandon its plan to legalize forest destruction by removing the current restriction on the export of timber from forest conservations.
“We state emphatically that FDA has no intention of pronouncing any regulation to allow forest destruction,” the statement noted.
It explained that SDI is aware of the open and transparent processes of developing regulations in the forest sector.
It also stressed that a process which encourages and utilizes public participation is driven by a quest for a sustainable solution to challenges in the forest sector.
The statement further noted that the Golden Veroleum Liberia concession and their host communities engaged the FDA on the utilization of the affected timber extracted areas that had already been agreed on for oil palm development.
“Reviewing our mandate and various laws governing the forest sector, we identified that there was no legal framework to support the commercial utilization of timber extracted from agriculture and other land based concessions,” the statement asserted.
The FDA also intimated that through several stakeholders’ engagements, it liaised with relevant governmental and nongovernmental institutions, which include the National Bureau of Concession, Liberia Revenue Authority, Green Advocates and many others.
The SDI’s action to place the mentioned laureates under the impression that there is an eminent doom in the forest sector is indeed ‘scandalous and intended to gain unmerited national and international relevance,’ FDA argued.
The FDA letter further demands proof and copy of such planned regulation to doom the forest sector.
The statement disclosed that Liberia has become a symbol of sustainable forest management in the international conservation community and no amount of ‘cheap propaganda’ can weaken that endeavor.
“We encourage forest stakeholders to constructively engage issues in the forest sector and refrain from acts that would reflect negatively on Liberia’s gains in sustainable forest management,” the statement warned.
FDA assured all forest stakeholders and the nation that it will, where needs be, develop participatory and appropriate regulations within the confines of the laws.