The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has taken serious exception to claims made by the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) in an open letter from Goldman Prize Laureates about an alleged FDA plan to develop a regulation allowing the destruction of Liberia’s forests. An FDA statement issued and circulated during the weekend to reporters in Monrovia was signed by Public Affairs and Communications Director, Anthony Fallah Vanwen. The SDI initially claimed that such a regulation contradicts the Liberian government’s pledge to reduce deforestation and forest degradation as evidenced by its signing of the New York Declaration on Forest in 2014. Other legal instruments that the FDA continues to forge include Liberia Voluntary Partnership (VPA) with the European Union (EU) and the Letter of Intent with the Kingdom of Norway.
The FDA statement also condemned an article that accompanied the letter on July 11, and published in a local daily in Monrovia. The statement said the National Forest Policy of Liberia mandates the FDA to sustainably manage the forest resources. “We would therefore not venture into activities aimed at destroying the country’s rich forest,” the statement argued. The statement further noted that the Golden Veroleum Liberia concession and their host communities engaged the FDA on the utilization of the affected timber extracted areas that had already been agreed on for oil palm development. “Reviewing our mandate and various laws governing the forest sector, we identified that there was no legal framework to support the commercial utilization of timber extracted from agriculture and other land based concessions,” the statement asserted.