Ghanaian companies are looking forward to working with the Liberian government for Timba trade deal which, according to them, will promote economic development and create employment for many Liberian; I started to wonder if Liberians were knowledgeable about the negative environmental impact related to logging which is a primary cause of deforestation. Logging promotes deforestation and often leads to corruption in the forest sector of Liberia.
Furthermore, this deal will enhance corrupt practices and lead to implementation of unsustainable environmental policies some of which often result to resource depletion, deforestation, as well as lack of inadequate institutions to reform environmental laws, ethical environmental principles and practices, and climate change awareness.
For example, stakeholders within the political establishment of the country maintain that the formation of a policy that encourages revenue driven regulations are significant to protecting the rainforest.
Therefore, they have encouraged the Liberian and Norwegian governments to sign a bilateral agreement aimed at protecting Liberia's rainforest from depletion. Such policies provide vital economic incentives aimed at conserving Liberia lush forest land.
Consequently, this enables the government of Liberia to focus on the implementation of a new forestry policy designed to allow it to escape deforestation and enables enforcement of an incentive-based approach to prevent the current rate of deforestation as well as reinforce environmental protection thereby strengthening local commerce.
This concept of forest management will lead the country to a sustainable forest solution because it relies on climate change regulations to offset carbon emission.
Unfortunately, these forest trade deals initiated by the Ghanaian delegations in Liberia have the propensity to derail the Norwegian agreements and further promote corruption in the forest sector of our country.
Consequently, this trade deal is not in the interest of protecting our rainforest because it switches control from one corrupt organization to another.
This would not only cause our forest to be depleted but any benefit from logging would go directly to the corrupt government officials and businesses with no long-term interest in maintaining a healthy forest ecosystem.
Moreover, when such bogus contracts are initiated in Liberia, it continues to aggravate our environmental problems, increasing the potential for forest depletion, loss of natural habitat for endangered animal species, water pollutions, erosion and environmental degradation.
Therefore, it is vital to state that such contracts should not bear fruit because they have the propensity to promote deforestation combined with a lack of sound and consistent regulatory policies poses an immediate concern for Liberia's forest.
Furthermore , privatization or given concession rights to a Ghanaian company will promote illegal logging, which serves as a contributing factor to the alarming rate of forest depletion in Ghana.
For example, forest depletion in Ghana continues to pose environmental threat that have negative effect on climate change and change in rainfall patterns as well as enhancing further corruption in the forest management sector of the economy, encourage deforestation, and continue to degrade the vital ecology system of that country.
Moreover, forest depletion in Ghana has negatively affected hundreds of endangered animal species and force them to migrate to other parts of West Africa. While some may argue that such contracts with a Ghanaian firm to deplete our rainforest will ease our unemployment problem, they are ultimately unsustainable and in the past have been detrimental to both the people and the environment of Liberia.
Misguided government policies did not tackle what was known to the international community as an uncontrollable environmental problem that creates potential opportunity for conflict in the country. It enhanced illegal logging, promoted, and provided millions in government revenue to fund the Liberian civil war.
And this contract is no different. It does enhance economic growth for our people but instead leads to the militarization of our forest sector and negatively affect conservation efforts by the Norwegian government who is currently pumping in millions of dollars aimed at preventing deforestation
Furthermore, the lack of sustainable forest policy in Liberia forces a much-needed discourse on the importance of forest management initiative and challenges the government of Liberia to work with its international partners to solve the evolving problem of deforestation as well as prevent firm such as the Ghanaian based company from signing contract that have the propensity to enhance forest destruction in the name of promoting economic growth and employment.
As a country, our government should focus its attention on the implementation of a sustainable forest policy with a more positive outcome that includes indigenous forest management options and the collaboration of international efforts which will be vital to protecting our rainforest.
The Liberian government should be reforming our environmental laws as well as its forest management policy. But any revisions to our current forest policies must include the creation of protected forest regions, economic production and forest management initiatives, creation of national parks, and non-military security to protect the Liberian rainforest.
To achieve this goal, the Forest Development Authority (FDA) of Liberia should play a critical role in promoting good governance and providing protection and management of Liberia's tropical rainforest that must be based on social, sustainable, and economic development.
FDA policy actions should enhance and strengthen acceptable forest initiatives and regulatory reform that seeks to recognize specific policies and the promotion and implementation of indigenous principles and practices nationwide.
Therefore, any logging contract should not be taken into consideration because it will destroy our remaining rainforest, promote the loss of biodiversity, soil erosion, deforestation and environmental pollutions.
Our Ghanaian counterpart should be promoting educational awareness aimed at educating Liberian about the negative effect of logging and it environmental impact while at the same time, encourage the FDA to shift from generating revenues from logging and focus its attention on policies that call for sustainable forest protection, creating National Parks, and establish Biosphere Reserves aimed strictly at preservation.
A comprehensive policy that includes forestry management and security initiatives, reforestation, and revenue-driven sustainable development programs is required for solving the unemployment problem in the forest sector in Liberia.
This will help the country not to deplete it remaining rainforest in the name of creating employment.
It will allows the government to focus its attention on the establishment of national park, and other reverse forest protected area which have the propensity to create long term employment, promote economic growth, and enhances local commence for our citizens.
Emmanuel Logan, Co-Founder,
Environmental Sustainability and Health &Safety Consultants (ESHCON)