7 February 2006

Liberia: Ellen Nullifies Forest Concessions

Monrovia — President Ellen Johnson- Sirleaf has signed Executive Order No. 1 adopting the recommendations and report of the Forest Concession Review Committee thereby declaring null and void all 'purported forest concessions.'

The Forest Concession Review Committee in May 2005 ordered certain corrective measures to institute reform of the natural resource sector of the country.

The report of the committee seeks to promote transparency and benefit sharing and public participation in the forest and natural resource management.

An Executive Mansion release issued last night said the order by President Sirleaf, with title: "GOL Forest Sector Reform" indicated that all forest concessions including concession agreements, management contracts, non-concession operator permits, forest management utilization contracts and salvage permits.

In keeping with the Executive Order, the Ministry of Justice has been instructed to issue individual letters informing all parties to such forest concessions of the decision.

Additionally, a Forestry Reform Monitoring Committee, headed by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), in collaboration with the Liberia Forest Initiative, has been established to monitor forest management reform.

The reform committee is charged with the responsibilities of overseeing, monitoring and verifying the formulation, development and implementation of granting and allocating the future forest concessions to allow the resumption of timber harvesting in Liberia consistent with international standards and basic principles of accountability, transparency and sustainability.

The Executive Order followed a concern raised recently by a forest campaigner, Ms. Gertrude Korvayan of the Green Advocates.

She told President Sirleaf that Liberia would suffer from timber sanction if it continues to ignore recommendations and report from the Forest Concession Review Committee.

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