Pit-Sawing Operations in River Cess County, Liberia - Green Advocates

Pit-sawing is a lucrative enterprise in Liberia and has the potential to help alleviate poverty amongst forest communities, assist in post-war reconstruction efforts, contribute to domestic revenue, and create employment opportunities for local communities. However, because the industry has not received any formal recognition and is not regulated by the FDA (Forest Development Authority), this potential has not been fully realized. The absence of official regulations and monitoring processes causes disadvantages for the pit-sawyers themselves as well as for other stakeholders.

The need to address this issue is now more pressing than ever, as Liberia is considering the endorsement of the EU-backed FLEGT/VPA (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade/Voluntary Partnership Agreement) initiative, a multi stakeholder-dialogue which addresses issues of illegality in the forest sector. In addition, Liberia is engaging in REDD (a mechanism for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) and other forest service payment schemes. 

Liberia currently has a high demand for sawn timber, especially in form of construction wood, as it finds itself in a post-war reconstruction period. Due to an absence of saw-milling industries, pit-sawing has become the only effective way to supply sawn timber to domestic markets, but according to provisions under the 2006 National Forestry Reform Law of Liberia, pit-sawing is considered illegal. However, because of the lack of full-scale mechanized commercial logging in Liberia, the government has not followed through on this provision and law enforcement efforts have been limited