Forest Community Pleads For Legal Assistance Against “Defiant” Logging Company
Numopoh Forest Community in Sinoe County, through their Community Forest Management Body has asked a local civil society organization, Volunteer To Support International Efforts In Developing Africa (VOSIDA) for legal support against Delta Timber Company (DTC).
Numopoh community is located in Kpanyan District in Sinoe County. Most of the settlements in Numopoh community are small-medium sized villages (ranging from 13–1000 persons) which they refer to as towns. The settlements are located between large forest, with low levels of infrastructural development (roads, schools and clinics and so on).
In May 2016, the Community and DTC entered in to a Community Forest Management Contract for the sustainable management of their forest resources under the Forestry Law of Liberia.
But it appears that, the dream of citizens of Numopoh community is far from be realized with reports of consistence non compliance to the terms and condition of the contract on the part the company.
In an effort to get justice, the community has unanimously resolved to seek redress from the court, which is why they have decided to sought the intervention of civil society organization with experience in forest governance.
The call by the people of Numopoh Community comes barely a week after the NGO Coalition of Liberia had called on the Liberian Government to probe into allegation of illegal logging and noncompliance to Social Agreement by DTC.
In a letter date December 7, 2018, copy of which is in the possession of this paper, the leadership of the Community Forest Management Body (CFMB) requested VOSIEDA to provide them with legal assistance in their pursue for justice.
“We the citizens of Numopoh District with one agreement from our district officers have resolved with regards to pursue through your honorable organization (VOSIEDA) a support that will move us the Community people forward in taking LEGAL ACTION through court proceedings against Delta Timber Company (DTC) which we have resolved with evidences that, is involved into illegal logging activities in two of our forests, the Pleubo Forest and the Polygborbor Forest that are not yet demarcated”, the letter from the community is quoted as saying.
The community leveled 15 counts against DTC, Some which of include, bad labor practices, demolition of rubber trees, damage of graves yard, destruction of secret forest (Zoe Bush), logging in the two un-demarcated forests, noncompliance to social agreement and refusal to attend to community’s call when invited.
The letter is signed by D. Bill Karmoh, CFMB Chairman, and attested by the President of the Community Assembly (CA), Paramount Chief, Sectional Chairman, Youth President, a member of the Community Assembly and the General Chairman.
Decision by the people of Numopoh to go to court comes in the wake of ongoing efforts by the European Union Non-State Actors Project (EU-NSA) to build the capacity of Liberian forest communities so as to be able to advocate for themselves against illegal logging and other bad practices in forest concessions/contracts.