Mongabay:Corrupt logging practices in Liberia could mar new era in community forestry



  • The agreements allow communities to sign contracts with logging companies on their own and entitling them to as much as 55 percent of the revenue stream from logging.
  • Liberian government officials say that in the past year alone, 128 communities have applied for these forestry permits.
  • In the remote Garwin chiefdom, one community may have been duped into giving away its land rights and future logging profits.

MONROVIA, Liberia – Reaching the remote Garwin chiefdom in central Liberia isn’t an easy feat. Only about an hour and a half of the journey takes place on a paved road. The remaining four hours wind their way along a cratered, narrow dirt road through thickets of jungle and the occasional blip of cell-phone coverage in a small transit town or isolated village.


Garwin is in River Cess County, one of the least developed parts of Liberia, but also one of the richest in forests suitable for being cut down and exported by commercial loggers.


Late last year, two clans in Garwin applied for a permit to manage a large tract of nearby forest. Their application was under a relatively new regulatory framework in Liberia that allows rural communities to exercise a much higher degree of control over forestry than they’ve had in the past.


Historically, the business of logging in Liberia has been tightly controlled by the central government. Contracts were handed out to companies in which few – if any – benefits were likely to trickle down to the communities that lived in the area.


But a law passed in 2009 revolutionized that system, giving communities the right to apply for “Community Forestry Management Agreements”. The agreements allow them to sign contracts with logging companies on their own, entitling them to as much as 55 percent of the revenue stream.



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Liberian activists celebrated the law at the time as a much-needed reform to the country’s long history of abuse and corruption. But now some of those same activists are worried that the system is being manipulated by loggers, and that once again Liberian communities are at risk of getting fleeced.

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