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Risk Score
83.2
Risk Profile
Higher Risk
Conflict State
No
Log Export Restriction
Yes
Other Timber Export Restrictions
No
Import Regulation
No
Latest Updates Click for latest news from Liberia
August 12, 2024
New Report from ACSS: Illegal Logging in Africa and Its Security Implications

Illegal logging is a growing feature of transnational organized crime in Africa, often facilitated by the collusion of senior officials, with far-reaching security and environmental implications for the countries affected.

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April 13, 2024
Liberia: Boakai Picks Wartime, Anti-Regulation Logger for FDA

President Joseph Boakai nominated Rudolph Merab as Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in Liberia. Activist groups believe  Merab to be an illegal logger and a critic of regulations and conservation efforts

 

Merab and ex-President Charles Taylor were business partners. Militiamen and ex-combatants guarded Merab’s Liberia Wood Management Corporation (LWMC) in the early 2000s, according to Global Witness. Bopolu Development Corporation (BODECO), another company Merab is associated with, has also been associated with  postwar logging scandals.   Boakai and Merab are said to be close friends, with Boaki having served as chairman of the board of directors of one of Merab’s companies.

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March 18, 2024
Liberia: Kpokolo: Illegal Logging Returns Despite ‘Ban’

New evidence that Kpokolo continues to be produced in Liberia, despite numerous reports on how producers are taking advantage of loophole in laws.

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March 5, 2024
UN Decries Illegal Trade and Transit of Illegal Wildlife and Rosewood

The UN has decried illegal trade in wildlife and forest products in Nigeria with little effective prosecution. The 2023 UNODC Organized Crime Threat Assessment for Nigeria revealed that Nigeria is a key transit hub and consolidation point for various forms of illegal trade in wildlife and forest products (including rosewood). These products are sourced both from Nigeria as well as other countries in the region including Cameroon, Gabon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin Republic.

Other related news cites more than 1000 records between 2011 and 2020 indicating that Nigeria is a source, transit, or destination country, or that the offender was a Nigerian national. Nigeria deals on illegal wildlife, forest products – Blueprint Newspapers Limited

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January 19, 2024
Liberia: Who’s In; Who’s Out – Incoming President Boakai Faces Dilemma Over State-Owned Enterprises

Summary of Liberia forest sector major issues and the appointment of new FDA leaders in January 2024

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January 19, 2024
Mapping the diversity of land uses following deforestation across Africa

The first high-resolution (5 m) and continental-scale
mapping of land use following deforestation in Africa, including humid and dry forests.

 

Results show, not surprisingly,  that the causes of forest loss vary by region. In general, small-scale cropland is the
dominant driver of forest loss in Africa, with hotspots in Madagascar and DRC. In addition, commodity
crops such as cacao, oil palm, and rubber are the dominant drivers of forest loss in the humid forests of
western and central Africa, forming an “arc of commodity crops” in that region. At the same time, the
hotspots for cashew are found to increasingly dominate in the dry forests of both western and southeastern Africa, while larger hotspots for large-scale croplands were found in Nigeria and Zambia.

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August 31, 2023
Liberia: Sierra Leoneans Conduct Illegal Logging in Nimba

A  group of Sierra Leoneans, hired by a Liberian businessman, are conducting an illegal logging operation in a forest in Nimba County, according to documents, interviews and photographs.

 

With the help of locals, the operations are producing thick timber near the Ivory Coast border in Karnplay, Gbelay-Geh District.

 

 

The Sierra Leoneans’ operations violate the Chainsaw Milling Regulation, which bars non-Liberians from working in the subsector, evidence shows. Their products go against the standard measurement for planks, matching a form of logging recently banned by the Forestry Development Authority (FDA).

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August 18, 2023
Liberia: Lofa Superintendent Extorting Money From Plank Dealers

The Superintendent of Lofa William Tamba Kamba is involve in collecting fees from plank producers and dealers in the northwestern county —  breaking the law and regulation governing a lucrative — but secretive subsector of forestry.

 

Under the National Forestry Reform Law and the Chainsaw Milling Regulation, superintendents have no such power. Practically, only the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), the plank workers union, communities or individuals who own forestlands have. But since 2020, producers and dealers have had to pay Kamba up to L$1,500 to make or transport planks, according to documents and interviews. Kamba, who recently constituted a committee on illegal logging and mining, organized a toll taskforce at major FDA checkpoints to collect the so-called “superintendent toll” or “county toll.”

 

Despite a partial ban on the exportation of planks, those who paid were permitted to export their planks to Sierra Leone, Kamara added. The ban is meant to stabilize the supply of planks on the domestic market, which largely depends on the chainsaw milling subindustry for everything from furniture to construction. Under the regulation, planks can only be exported when barcoded and registered into Liberia’s timber-tracking system, something forestry authorities are yet to put in place.

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August 7, 2023
Liberia: Forest Regulator Gave Loggers Over 14K Hectares of Surplus Forests

At the end of 2021, the Ministry of Justice concluded an investigation into a Chinese-owned company accused of illegal logging.  The investigation confirmed that the West African Forest Development Incorporated (WAFDI) harvested logs in the Gheegbarn #1 Community Forest in excess of legal requirements. However, the investigation found WAFDI was not alone.

 

It turned out, the Forestry Development Authority (FDA), which had recommended the official inquest, had illegally awarded WAFDI about 14,460 hectares of extra woodland in Grand Bassa’s Compound Number Two. The agency had approved Gheegbarn’s entire 26,363 hectares to be harvested over two times faster than normal forestry regime demands.

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August 4, 2023
Massive carbon offset deal with Dubai-based firm draws fire in Liberia

According to a draft contract seen by Mongabay, Liberia may sign away the rights to nearly 10% of its total land mass to a United Arab Emirates-based firm for carbon offset development.

 

The firm is owned by Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, the youngest member of Dubai’s royal family and an investor in energy projects across Africa and the Middle East.

 

Environmental groups in Liberia say the deal could violate multiple laws, including those meant to protect community land rights.

 

The deal comes as the UAE prepares to host the COP28 climate conference, where rulemaking around carbon markets will be a hot agenda item.

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June 13, 2023
Liberia: US$4.17M Illegal Logs Slip Through Gov’t Fingers

When Renaissance Group Inc. illegally harvested over 14,000 cubic meters of logs in Compound Number Two, Grand Bassa County, over a year ago, many in the forestry sector had hoped that the government would have moved in immediately and had the stolen logs confiscated with other appropriate actions taken.

 

Rather, the Forestry Development Authority, which has the statutory responsibility to govern the sector, imposed a paltry fine of US$105K on the logs valued at an estimated US$4.17 million. The FDA later seized the logs, and denied RGI from exporting.

 

The decision however to have the company fined came back to haunt the country, eventually paving the way for RGI, which had earlier sued the government, to have its ownership restored when the Supreme Court mandated the FDA to allow the company to export its harvests.

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June 12, 2023
Liberia: How Police Busted a Web of Korean Timber Traffickers

In January 2023, the Liberia National Police (LNP) charged several men, including two Korean nationals, in connection with an illegal logging operation in Gbarpolu County.

Their charges range from economic sabotage, theft, criminal conspiracy, and criminal facilitation to forgery and bribery, according to an arrest warrant by the Monrovia City Court.

“These people will go in the bushes, fell the trees, cut the logs and use bogus documents in order to evade taxes, and will use those documents to ship the containers of logs out of Liberia,” said the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police Patrick Sudue at a news conference.

 

That might have been the beginning of the men’s case but the end of a timber-trafficking network, first exposed in an investigation by The DayLight in August last year. This investigation further sheds light on the organization of the Korean-connected syndicate and illegal logging in Liberia.

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June 9, 2023
Statement by the Independent Forest Monitoring Coordination Mechanism (IFMCM) on Renaissance Group Incorporated (RGI) Logging Operations in District #1, Grand Bassa County

A collection of 7 Liberian civil society organizations have strongly condemned the process leading to the harvesting and subsequent exportation of timber products by the Renaissance Group Incorporated (RGI) outside of Liberia’s forestry legal and regulatory framework. The exporting of illegally sourced timber is a failure of the rule of law and underminds Liberia’s efforts towards attaining FLEGT VPA license.

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May 25, 2023
Liberia: ‘Kpokolo’ Explained: What We Know About the Illegal Trade

This article summarizes the industry of kpokolo production in Liberia, highlighting challenges within the legal framework and enforcement activities.

 

The word Kpokolo roughly translates “thick and heavy” in the Kpelle language. That is a reference to the nature of the timber, which are squared, compact and require an entire football team or a machine to lift it up.

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May 10, 2023
Liberia: FDA Axes Illegal Loggers

The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has banned a Turkish logging company and barred its shareholders for illegal logging activities in Liberia, the agency said in a press release on Tuesday.

The FDA said Askon Liberia General Trading Limited abused its sawmill license and extracted and exported timber. The agency said it would recommend prosecution for its owners: Hassan, Yetar, and Faith Uzan.

 

The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has banned a Turkish logging company and barred its shareholders for illegal logging activities in Liberia, the agency said in a press release on Tuesday.

 

The FDA also said it took action against logging companies for stockpiling logs across the country.  Companies abandon logs when they do not attend to them between three weeks and six months working days, depending on their location, according to the Regulation on Abandoned Logs, Timber and Timber Products.

The agency announced it has suspended the harvesting certificates of Mandra Forestry, Roby Light Forestry and Atlantic Resources.

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April 20, 2023
Illegal logging in Africa is a threat to security

Drawing from Center fro Africa Strategic Stiudies  recent report, which is based on  recent research and programmatic work at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, we have analyzed three ways that illegal logging affects national security and what that means for current measures to counter it.

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March 29, 2023
Liberia: The Turkish Illegal Loggers And Their Government Partner

Last November, local authorities ordered a Turkish company, Askon Liberia General Trading Inc,  to halt its logging operations in a forest between Ganta and Sanniquellie.

 

The Office of the Superintendent in Sanniquellie said Askon Liberia General Trading Incorporated did not have a logging contract and did not pay benefits to communities adjacent to the Garr-Mongbain Community Forest.  Askon had come to Zuluyee in 2020, harvesting valuable redwood. The decision of county authorities followed some two years of residents’ anger over the company’s operations and suspicion it was illegally harvesting.

 

The article highlights a range of issues over the years with the company and illegal activities in the forest sector.

 

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March 27, 2023
Liberia: Permit Shows FDA Boss Approved Illegal Timber Exports

Liberia’s Managing Director Doryen and Edward Kamara, the FDA’s manager for forest product marketing and revenue forecast, issued the permit to Trans World Holdings Inc. outside the legal channel to export timber.

 

“This is to confirm that Trans World Holding Inc. has met the Forestry Development Authority annual timber and timber products buying and exporting registration requirements as a non-contract holder in accordance with sustainable marketing strategy and the enterprise development,” read the document, signed only by the two men, in April 2021.

 

 

The permit shows a stark variance from the ones created by the FDA chain of custody system called LiberTrace. For instance, the document was valid for a year, unlike legal permits that are issued on a shipment-by-shipment basis. It contains at least one human error, something the legal permits are free of. It is the same as a permit Doryen awarded to an Ivorian-owned firm named Porgal, exposed in an investigation last year. The LiberTrace system is Liberia’s sole safeguard for the trading of legal timber on the international market.

 

The Trans World permit Doryen approved goes against the National Forestry Reform Law and Regulation on the Establishment of a Chain of Custody System.

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March 24, 2023
Liberia: FDA Says It Issued ‘Tens’ Of Permits Outside Legal System

The Forestry Development Authority said it has issued “tens” of export permits outside Liberia’s log-tracking system.

 

“Tens of these documents have been issued to businesses that have expressed intent to get involved in trading timber and non-timber forest products in Liberia,” said Edward Kamara, the FDA’s manager for forest product marketing and revenue forecast.

 

 

The FDA issued the permits Kamara referenced outside the chain of custody system or LiberTrace. By law, the FDA must issue all permits within LiberTrace.

“No person shall import, transport, process, or export unless the timber is accurately enrolled in the chain of custody,” according to the National Forestry Reform Law.

 

A pivotal part of Liberia’s international timber trade, LiberTrace traces the sources of the logs to their final destinations. The computerized system checks the legality of timber, including contracts, transports and payments. LiberTrace’s permits contain barcodes, and companies acquire them on a shipment-by-shipment basis.

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March 6, 2023
Liberia forms joint task force to address illegal logging

The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority, Mike Doryen, has announced the formation of a joint national task force to control illicit or illegal logging in Liberia.

 

According to him, to enhance transparency in the forest sector here, the committee comprising all law enforcement agencies, civil society organizations, and the media will work along with development partners as advisors and observers to have this achieved. He revealed that the ministry of foreign affairs and other key ministries will also be on the taskforce.

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February 21, 2023
Liberia may have 'parallel system' for illegal log exports

A government document obtained by The Associated Press outlines more than three dozen cases in Liberia where it appears logs were illegally cut or moved out of the country using unofficial channels

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February 15, 2023
FDA Bans ‘Kpokolo’ Timbers

The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has banned the transport of squared timbers, commonly called “kpokolo,” to curtail illegal exports.

 

In Kpokolo logging operations, individuals sign agreements with villagers to harvest logs, and mill them into thick, heavy timber blocks. The woods are then packed into containers and smuggled out of the country.

The FDA indicated that most of the timber arrested for attempting to illegally export consisted of these dimensions, and thus banned to be brought to the market, especially in Monrovia.

No clarification on  when the ban was imposed but rangers and kpokolo producers had put it to as early as September 2022.

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January 25, 2023
Liberia: Courts Crack Down On Officials Trying To Stop Illegal Timber Exports, As Impunity In Forest Sector Grows

The staff, according to the INGOs, were carrying out their jobs, verifying that timber exported from the country is legally sourced. This means it meets the requirements laid down in Liberia’s legal framework, ensuring that revenues are paid, and benefits shared with local communities.

Those ordered arrested by the Supreme Court include FDA Managing Director Mike Doryen, FDA Deputy Manager for Operations Joseph Tally, FDA Board Chair Harrison Karnwea, Technical Manager of FDA’s Legality Verification Department Getrude Korvahyan Nyaley, Head of FDA’s Deputy Managing Director for Administration and Finance Benjamin T. Plewon, and FDA lawyer Cllr. Yanquoi Dolo, for contempt of court.

The INGOs insinuated that it appears the court seems intent on directing the FDA staff to carry out illegal activities.

Under Liberia’s Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) trade deal with the EU, Liberia is only allowed to export legally sourced timber. That is timber registered in and verified through Liberia’s timber export scheme (LiberTrace).

Illegal logging is, however, rife.

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October 18, 2022
Liberia: FDA Authorities Issuing Illegal Export Permits

“I have no idea what [those permits are],” said Gertrude Nyaley, the technical manager for the department. “What I know is that all woods and wood products must be exported [through] the LiberTrace system. Any shipment of timber or timber products outside the chain-of-custody system is illegal.”

The Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) Mike Doryen and top managers of the agency award export permits to logging companies outside of the legal channel for the exportation of timber, documents obtained by The DayLight have revealed.

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September 23, 2022
Liberia: Logging Company EJ&J Shipped US$3 million in Lumber Despite Telling Community Exports were Halted; FDA Fails to Act

In 2018 the communities of the Ziadue/Teekpeh Authorized Community Forest were hopeful that better days were ahead when their Community Forest Management Body signed a five-year Social Agreement with the Liberian logging company EJ&J and it’s Malaysian subcontractor Brilliant Maju. EJ&J is owned by Liberian businesswomen Eliza D.J. Kroyahn.

In the agreement EJ&J committed to constructing an elementary school, 16 hand pumps and to protecting all water collection points in the area. It also agreed to pay US$10,500 as scholarship funds annually for children in the affected communities.

But four years on, despite repeated local efforts to force the company to act including with the help of the Forestry Development Authority, EJ&J has done none of what it promised. All the while the company has continued to take valuable trees from the forest for export.

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August 1, 2022
Liberia: Inside Minister Cooper Kruah’s Illegal Logging Deals

At the end of a 20-minute motorcycle ride from a town called Korlay, lie dozens of logs on a rocky, bushy road into the forest.

“That’s just small you see here. There are more in the bush,” one man tells my colleague Gabriel Dixon, our two motorcycle-taxi riders, and me, as he cleared grass from a pile of logs. We cannot name him and other villagers we interviewed over fear of retribution.

We are in the Sehzueplay Community Forest in the Tappita District of Nimba County, where Universal Forestry Corporation (UFC) operates. The company signed an agreement with villages here in 2020 to share logging resources for 12 years. In June, an investigation by The DayLight found that the Minister of Posts and Telecommunication Cooper Kruah is one of the owners of the company, rendering the agreement illegal.

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February 18, 2022
Liberia: Rep. Fallah in illegal Logging?

What appears to be an illegal large-scale chainsaw timber extraction is threatening the proposed Foya Protected Area in Western Lofa, environmentalists have alarmed. Also threatened by the company’s activities is the Yandohun mini-hydro power plant, which has been providing 24-hour electricity to Yandohun town and other adjacent communities. The timber harvest is reportedly being conducted by the Desire Construction Company, a local construction contractor with headquarters in Johnsonville, Montserrado County.

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January 26, 2022
Akewa: The Nigerian Company Breaking Liberia’s Logging Laws Unpunished

In 2019, Gola Konneh Community Forest signed a logging agreement with Akewa Group of Companies. The parties agreed that the company would log in the community forest for 15 years and pay the community fees for the use of the land and timbers. The company promised to build schools, clinics and roads. But nearly three years after, the deal has not worked as the community had expected. None of the projects have been conducted despite it felling over 4,615 cubic meters of logs in the 49,179-hectare forest, according to a leak we obtained. Akewa  owes the villagers US$86,081 in land rental and log-harvesting fees.

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January 4, 2022
Liberia Forest Media Watch Outlines Menaces Hampering the Forest Sector

Moses R. Quollin, the National Coordinator of the Liberia Forest Media Watch (LFMW) is calling stakeholders in the forest sector to find a way to alleviate some of the menaces that are hampering the growth and development of the sector. Giving LFMW’s progress report at the 2nd Meeting with editors and senior reporters the National Coordinator of the group outlined the many challenges faced by the forest sector.

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November 23, 2021
Liberia loggers felling trees outside concession as government stands by

A new report shows a case of illegal harvest of timber in Liberia has gone unpunished for more than two years. A 2019 audit had found that 14,000 m3 (494,000 ft3) of timber ostensibly from the TSC-A2 concession in Grand Bassa county was effectively untraceable, yet permits for the sale and export of much of the timber were still approved.

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Publications Click for publications related to Liberia
While subsistence agriculture and logging still contribute to deforestation, commercial-scale agricultural expansion is now recognized as by far the single largest driver of deforestation worldwide and thus also of greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change. Several initiatives have quantified how much and where deforestation is driven by commercial agriculture, and even how much of this […]
Key Resources
Click here for a collection of Forest Trends publications related to IDAT Risk, including the full set of Timber Legality Risk Country Dashboards.
Methodology
Click here to download the Methodology which includes information on data sources, the methodology used to create risk indicators, and a glossary of key terms.
Data Tools

Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.

Click here to access the Cattle Data Tool.

Export Restrictions
Click here to download a database of forest policy export restrictions.