The Chairman of the Land reforms Commission Dr. Caesar Othello Brandy has pledged the Commission's support towards President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's stance on the issuance of Private Users Permit (PUP).
Speaking in Monrovia on Thursday, January 3, 2013, during the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism (MICAT) regular press briefing, Dr. Brandy described the president's decision as a step in the right direction.
According to him, the rural dwellers have suffered for too long and it was about time for them to benefit from the forest and other natural resources they live with.
Dr. Brandy expressed the Land Commission's readiness to implement every mandate from President Sirleaf on land issues in the country.
Recently endorsing a report submitted by a Special Independent Investigative Body (SIIB) established by her to investigate allegations of flagrant violations of PUPs in the country, President Sirleaf constituted a National Inventory Team (NIT) which includes the Land Commission, Internal Audit Secretariat (IAS), SGS and Forestry Development Authority (FDA) to begin an inventory of logs across Liberia.
Accordingly, logs harvested in contravention of a moratorium placed on PUPs will be subjected to appropriate legal action, including confiscation and public auctions. Proceeds will be used to settle tax obligations to government and benefit o communities affected by PUPs alleged abuses.
Following extensive logging operations during previous governments and the civil conflict, in 2004, Liberia had only 4.39 million hectares of forest land remaining. Following the enactment of the National Forest Reform Law (NFRL) in 2006, the Liberian government adopted a National Forest Management Strategy (NFMS) with an objective to allocate and manage the remaining forest land. Under the strategy, 2.5 million hectares of forest were found suitable for commercial use, focusing on concession system and community forestry. The strategy also provided for the FDA to allocate 2.0 million hectares of forest into timber sales contractors, Forest Management Contracts and Privates Use Contracts.