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.
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).
Last Saturday, President Dr Julius Maada Bio visited the Guma Valley Dam at Mile 13 in Freetown to see the massive deforestation taking place in the area to make way for community settlements, and called ordered the re-establishment of the Western Area Forest Green Belt and an immediate investigation into the activities of the Ministry of Lands and Housing following accusations of maladministration and corruption.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Dr. Abu Bakarr Karim, is personally benefiting from the horrific and most ruinous illegal logging Sierra Leone has ever seen. The ministry is one of the most corrupt in the country, and it is the main driving force behind the current catastrophic food insecurity and the environmental and ecological degradation overtaking Sierra Leone.
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.
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