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Liberian forests granted to logging companies
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More than half of Liberia's forests have been granted to logging companies according to figures released to the Guardian newspaper in the UK from Global Witness – and all of the contracts have been issued during Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's government. Global Witness is an international non-government organization established in 1993 that investigates and monitors environmental issues. Source: The Guardian UK
More than 40 per cent of the Upper Guinea rainforest is in Liberia.
Global Witness says it has found evidence that huge swaths of land are being relinquished to logging companies without adherence to local regulations or laws. Most of this land is virgin rainforest according to Global Witness.
Conflict timber became the main source of funding for former president, Charles
Despite this, Liberia still has an abundance of forest. Global Witness calculates that, since 2008, 2.4 million hectares (5.9m acres) of the country's 4.4 million hectares of forest have been granted to logging companies – around 55 per cent.
Logging exports resumed in 2010, after a UN timber ban was lifted in 2006. That year President Sirleaf was praised for revoking all existing timber concessions and introducing new forestry legislation, after the contracts were criticised for being awarded in a corrupt way.
Recently, Liberia joined other major timber-producing countries and signed a binding agreement with the EU "committing them to trading only in wood products that can be verified as legal". The EU regulation comes into effect in March 2013, requiring all companies that export to Europe to prove they are buying timber that has been logged legally.
It is expected Liberia will be ready to begin issuing licences to export by 2014.