Liberia: Logging Firms Using Politicians' Names to Commit Forest Grabs

The leadership of the Union of Liberia Community Forests (ULCF) has called on heads of logging companies in the country to desist from using names of politicians and government officials to take over community forests.

This, according to ULCF, is undermining the development of rural communities and its people.

"The situation is also feuding conflict in the local communities, especially among the leaders," ULCF said in its recent release.

According to the release, since Forestry Development Authority (FDA) approved the Community Forest Management Agreement in September this year, several community forest leadership have informed the union of the presence of some unknown logging companies in their community forests, reportedly using the names of politicians and some government officials (not named) to achieve their goal of taking over the forests.

"The forest union was founded to work collaboratively with the FDA and foreign partners for the protection, education and guidance of all registered community forests," the release said, while at the same time calling on community forest leadership across the country to notify the union of any malpractice or interference from any politicians or government officials regarding the running and affairs of community forests.

Meanwhile, the union has commended President George Weah for signing into law the country's Land Rights Act and the recent approval of the Community Forest Management Agreement by FDA Board chairman.

The release, which is singed by the union's secretary general Jefferson Z. Zoegbeh and approved by its president Arthur Katee Gbabow, also commended both the Lower and Upper Houses for their collective effort that brought the land rights law issue to a logical conclusion.

The forest union has earlier advised all interested logging companies or concessionaires within the bailiwick of the country to pass through the proper channels and the various community leadership to obtain portion of the forests, and not to use names of politicians or government officials to intimidate the locals.

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