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Liberia’s illegal logging under scrutiny

Environmental group Global Witness has been involved in investigating the destruction of forests in the developing world. Now the group has turned its attention to Liberia in South Africa with instant repercussions. Source: New York Times

In a new report that seems to be instigating some immediate reaction, the group has turned its sights on illegal logging in Liberia.

Within hours of the report’s release, Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, suspended the head of the country’s Forestry Development Authority and ordered an investigation.

The report says that control of one-quarter of Liberia’s land has been granted to logging companies in just two years through permits that were illegally or fraudulently awarded.

Essentially, “private use permits” intended to allow private landowners to cut down trees on their property are being signed over to logging companies, creating a loophole for felling vast tracts of forest.

One company now controls 7.5 percent of Liberia’s land, according to the group. It added that some of the private-use permits had been fraudulently transferred and that local people often did not understand the deals.