Hon C. Mike Doryen, FDA Managing Director
Hon C. Mike Doryen, FDA Managing Director

FDA Reacts DayLight Publication on Illegal Timber Export Permit Issuance

Forestry Development Authority, has reacted to a recent publication by the DayLight’s titled, “FDA’s Managers Issue Illegal Timber Export Permit” failed to provide factual information.

According to FDA, the DayLight publication in the FrontPageAfrica is fallacious, uncompromisingly and a calculated ploy to denigrate the forest sector.

The FDA described the DayLight editors and their style of publications, as counterproductive to the norms of journalism, noting that it can only be classified as a “paid journalism” employed by our detractors to paint the FDA ugly in the eyes of the public.

“The DayLight has and continues to paint a ghostly picture of the Forestry Development Authority (FDA) for the past six months through malicious and fallacious publications with an apparent attempt to blackmail the FDA and by extension Liberia so that the forest sector of the Nation can appear negative in the eyes of the public,” the FDA said in a release.

The FDA also recounted that the DayLight recently published that the EJ&J Logging Company shipped Three (3) Million United States Dollars worth of logs secretly out of the Country, a story which the FDA debunked by providing data and other evidence.

According to the forest body, the amplification of the story was channeled through several newspapers, including FrontPage Africa.

However, FDA stressed that the publisher lacks an understanding of the nature and scope of forest management, particularly the difference between plantation operations, natural forest management, and the associated permitting mechanisms.

Plantation Timber Harvesting:

In the same way, FDA said the publication referenced Tectona grandis wood commonly referred to as Teak, which is an exotic hardwood species not indigenous to Liberia.

It said Teak was introduced into Liberia as part of Liberia’s plantation forestry programs before the civil war, and like several developments, plantations across Liberia were heavily destroyed due to several factors relating to land claims, including agriculture.

The impacts of these activities according to FDA, are visible in several counties including Bomi, and Nimba Counties, where there were substantial private and communal claims on plantation lands.

The authority named the disappearance of the Bomi Pulpwood Plantation during earlier administration as a classic example.

“These destroyed plantations later suffered salvage harvesting of remnants of teak trees by pit sawyers, farmers, and charcoal and fuel wood producers,” FDA noted.

Additionally, FDA maintained that these salvage plantations fell below the technical requirements for forest resource licenses (which would require their enlistment in LiberTrace); therefore, scientific plantations management could not be applied.

Economically, the utilization of these remnant teak trees according to FDA, through a permitting system proved managerially wise and was used by FDA Management since the cessation of civil hostilities.

Therefore, the authority believes it is essential to note that the teak logs were not sourced from natural forests but are remnants of destroyed plantations, primarily agricultural land.

It said the regenerative nature of teak also favors its continuous existence on land where plantations were previously established.

FDA stated that some of these trees have been left on farms, especially in Nimba County and that the salvage logs harvested did not meet the entry requirement of LiberTrace, SGS Liberia declined to certify those logs within LiberTrace because of their peculiar salvage nature.

The FDA clarified that Past Managements of the Forestry Development Authority had the option to either allow the logs to waste/rot without any economic benefit or take a decision that favors their utilization, but chose utilization, hence the birth of the mentioned permit.

FDA said: “The permit mentioned by the reporter was issued within this framework.”

“However, it is important to note that the FDA did not issue any export permit to Polgal Enterprise, rather the FDA issued an annual registration permit.

These permits were signed by all former Managing Directors of the FDA.”

Similarly, FDA averred that it is important to note that Atty. Gertrude Nyaley of the FDA’s Legality Verification Department who was quoted by DayLight as having no knowledge of the permit legality also signed one of the mentioned permit act as acting Managing Director.

Besides, the FDA defended that the report about Current Management Action, After about fourteen (14) years of utilizing this mode of permitting current Management Team under C Mike Doryen, as part of its ongoing reform process, suspended the issuance of permits for plantation wood, in December 2020.

It said the FDA has since required that all logs be processed through a special entry mechanism within LiberTrace.

The release stated that the current FDA Management Team and its Board of Directors reached a decision early this year, which further confirmed the earlier decision of the Management Team, thus confirming the shifting of the utilization trend for salvage plantation timber and expanding the scope of LiberTrace.

These, processes, FDA said are commendable reforms implemented by the current Management Team to promote sustainable and verifiable utilization of forest products.

The FDA, therefore, wonders why the reporter is choosing this time to resurrect an issue inherited and addressed by the current Management of the FDA.

The FDA considers the publication as a continuation of DayLight’s intentional negative campaign waged over the past six (6) months to undermine the gains made in the forest sector by this Government.

FDA further Committed itself to Sustainable Forest Management and that the forest sector of Liberia remains one of the most scrutinized sectors in Liberia.

“We at the FDA will stay true to our mandate and will not be distracted by the hidden agenda of DayLight and its payee,” FDA stressed.

It said the forest sector has seen an increase in revenue collection over the last two (2) years despite global economic challenges.

FDA clarified that forest revenues are projected to increase, and we will continue creating and facilitating conditions to improve the revenue space.

However, the authority acknowledges that small contributors to the sector revenue generation will also grow, and Companies like Rosemart Inc., which currently does not meet the revenue threshold, may be captured by LEITI subjected to a decision of the Multi-stakeholders Group of Liberia’s extractive sector which is chaired by the Managing Director of the FDA Hon. C Mike Doryen. We are also committed to elevating the level of compliance in the sector.

FDA further noted: “We will continue to institute reforms and direct a shift from the unresolved challenges that faced earlier Management at the FDA.”