FDA Issues Moratorium on Harvesting of Chewing Sticks -Places Indefinite ban on Cutting of cotton trees

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The Forestry Development Authority (FDA) has frowned on the unscrupulous harvesting of Chewing Sticks (Clear felling), something which it says is seriously undermining and threatening the sustainability of this species in the natural stand and is contributing to the loss of biodiversity and its ecosystem.  Accordingly, it has stopped /suspended the harvest of this species with immediate effect. However, all chewing sticks that are being harvested are required to be removed for export on or before Friday, September 24, 2021.

In a release FDA mandates that the removal of the already harvested chewing sticks is to be monitored by the FDA Regional Foresters and their staff members. This means that all export permits requests for products harvested before this moratorium but still in the forests must originate from the Regional Forester/ Contract Administrators confirming the compliance to this mandate.

According to management’s decision this moratorium will remain in force until a mechanism that will ensure sustainable harvesting is put in place to ensure compliance to the Guideline/Manual for the Commercial Harvesting of Specialty NTFPs Species and Certain Medicinal Plant Species.

Against this backdrop Management is kindly requesting all concerned to adhere to this moratorium as anyone violating this mandate will be penalized following SECTION X: Violations and Penalties/Fines of the Guideline/Manual for the Commercial Harvesting of Specialty NTFPs Species and Certain Medicinal Plant Species.

Meanwhile, the FDA has embarked on the Registration and Documentation of all individuals /entities involved in the production, processing, and trade of Forest Products.       The release also says that the exercise focuses more on producers, processors, and traders of the following forest products including Chainsaw Milling Timber Traders (Wood Fields), All Furniture, Carpentry, and Woodwork shops, Charcoal Producers and Traders (Charcoal Depots), Round Poles/Posts and Rafters Producers and Traders, Bamboo and Rafter Producers and Traders and other Non-timber Forest Products (NTFPs) producers, processors, etc.

The producers and traders of the above-mentioned forest products are requested to register their businesses per Regulation 112-08 (Regulation on the Forest Products Processing and Marketing); Regulation 111-08 (Commercialization of NTFPs) to avoid further embarrassment.

The release says as an enforcement mechanism, CERTIFICATION OF REGISTRATION from the Authority will be used as a pre-requisite for the issuance of ALL WAYBILLS to the would-be conveyors of forest products.  It emphasizes that any product coming to checkpoints without a valid registration permit and Waybill will be ceased, confiscated, and auctioned immediately.

It can be recalled that recently the Government of Liberia signed the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union aimed at establishing Timber Legality Assurance System (TLAS) in Liberia. The TLAS applies to all sources of commercial timber and products produced, processed, and /or acquired in Liberia including those for non-EU markets, as well as all timber sold on the domestic market.

Liberia is also a member of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO). Hence, Liberia /Forestry Development Authority (FDA) in under the obligation to periodically share its statistics/data on all forest products harvested and traded in and from Liberia with the ITTO.

FDA says it is undertaking a project entitled “Scaling up the participation of SMEs in the Secondary Wood Processing Industry in Liberia.” This project aims to improve the standard of furniture making and carpentry so that GOL and International Development Partners will increase the procurement of Made-in-Liberia furniture and other woodworking products which also require legality assurance of products used in the production. One of the factors of TLAS is the legal existence of the business entity (Legally registered with the Sector Authority and GOL).

At a recent major press conference in Monrovia the Managing Director, C. Mike Doryen constituted a four- member Community Forest Management Review Committee Task Force to ensure community forest governance system in the country.  Those appointed to effect this task included Atty. Yanquoi Dolo, chairman, Mr. John Mckay, co-chairman, Atty. Gertrude Nyaley, member and Mr. Edward Kamara, member. The team is to fully utilize the resources and expertise of the Law Enforcement Division and the Confiscation Unit. The team will conduct a comprehensive review of the authorized community forest planning requirements as well as harvesting requirements of community forests’ actors. The committee is requested to review existing community forest management plans, conduct an intensive field exercise to verify the level of compliance with the legal framework governing community forestry in Liberia.

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