Saturday, September 26, 2009

Liberian forests surrendered despite pledges and warnings

Festus Poquie in via the New Democrat (Monrovia, Liberia): International partners, worried about the climatic effects of depleting one of Africa's last remaining tracks of rain forest, pledged to pay millions to the Government to reserve and preserve its forests. They campaigned to stop the Legislature from passing 4 forests bills they have determined are not in the country's interests. But behind closed doors, the Legislators did their thing, with the House Speaker, Alex Tyler, describing internationals concerns as "a joke" because, he added, jobs are needed.

This means that Legislators have surrendered the country's forest to various foreign companies, ignoring concerns and pleads from environmental groups to preserve one of Africa's valuable rain forests in order to prevent carbon emission.

The forestry contracts awarded to various foreign and local companies have been highly controversial, with Global Witness, the international environmental rights campaigners, citing illegality in the bidding process and hinting legislators that a notorious Malaysian logging company (Samling) is involved with the contracts.

Global Witness, in a letter addressed to legislators Thursday, revealed that the country's international partners have offered financial compensation to encourage it not to log its forest because of its "value in mitigating global climate change". "Liberia can preserve its forest and receive funding equivalent to potential logging revenues that the government could use to boost Liberia's economy, invest in infrastructure, and in so doing to create jobs….

Rainforest at edge of logging road near Konimbo, Liberia (West Africa), shot by John Atherton, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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