Sierra Leone has banned the transport and export of logs in an effort to crack down on illegal logging, reports AFP.
“Illegal logging is having adverse effect on the country’s environment and depleting the ozone layer and most be stopped with immediate effect,” said a statement issued by President Ernest Koroma’s office.
Violations of the ban, which takes effect immediately, will be punishable by fines and confiscation of property.
Officials in Sierra Leone told AFP that “tens of millions of dollars worth of logs were smuggled out of the country to Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries to be made into furniture and household decorations.” Wood products are often unlabeled or mislabeled to conceal their origin.
According to the U.N., roughly 38 percent of Sierra Leone was forested in 2005. The country lost roughly 10 percent of its forest cover since 1990, although deforestation rates rose following the end of civil conflict in 2001.
Clearing for cattle grazing, fuelwood collection, subsistence agriculture and mining also contribute to forest loss in Sierra Leone.
Sierra Leone has 2,090 known species of higher plants, 147 mammals, 626 birds, 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and 99 fish species, according to the World Conservation Monitoring Center.