Liberia: President Suspends Forestry Boss

Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf late Friday suspended the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) based on recommendations from the board.

Moses Wogbeh, who heads the agency responsible for the management and protection of Liberia's forest, was suspended without pay and replaced by former Internal Affairs Minister, Harrison Karnewa pending the outcome of an investigation of an independent committee set up by the president.

"President Sirleaf has suspended, without pay, the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, Mr. Moses Wogbeh, and appointed Mr. Harrison S. Karnwea to serve as interim Managing Director, pending the report of the Special Independent Investigative Body," a statement from the presidency said.

The statement did not give details on his suspension, but added, it based on the recommendation of the board. But of late, there has been issues on land usage referred to as Private Use Permit(PUP); which allows the entity to grant legal document to a group of people, community, or companies to use such land for commercial purpose; with certain percent of royalty is given the community.

Many logging companies see this as an easy route to exploit the country's forest. According to report from NGO community, 66 Private Use Permits have been issued covering 26,000 km2, over 23 percent of Liberia's territory.

The president has also commissioned an independent body to conduct a comprehensive review of the policies and procedures regarding the issuance of Private Use Permits (PUPs), in keeping with recommendations of the Board of Directors of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).

"Additionally, the President has approved the Board's recommendations for the export of logs at the port by the four (4) concessions that were approved for PUPs in February 2012 and have settled their tax obligations. However, the moratorium on exports will remain in place for all other logs pending the report of the Special Independent Investigative Body."

Members of the committee include people from the NGO community, the USAID, Environmental agency as well as EU.

No time was given for the committee to report. But the Minister of Information told New Republic on phone that "the president will want the report out as soon as possible. She wants to see this report out in the shortest possible time. She attaches great importance to this committee's report."

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