News that Liberia’s forestry authority was considering allowing the sale of timber logged from oil palm concessions – called “conversion timber” — was met with opposition by international and local conservationists.Critics say this path could give industrial agriculture companies like palm oil producers a way to get around forest preservation measures and their own zero-deforestation policies. Company representatives deny these claims.Liberia has stepped up its environmental regulations in recent years after decades of conflict-fuelled deforestation and recent international pressure to keep its trees in the ground to help stave off climate change.A conversion timber request by palm oil producer Golden Veroleum Liberia was ultimately denied by the government, but conservationists worry this is only the beginning. In July, news leaked out that Liberia’s Forestry Development Authority (FDA) was considering a new regulation to allow timber logged from palm oil and other plantations to be sold abroad. The news followed the failed request for a timber sale from a palm oil concession owned by Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL). The NGO Rainforest Rescue started a petition against the potential new regulation and 50 Goldman Prize Winners signed an open letter calling on the Liberian government “to abandon its plan to legalize forest destruction by removing the current restriction on the export of timber from forest conversion.” The Sustainable Development Institute (SDI), a Goldman award-winning Liberian NGO, warned that the move “will mean the end of many forests.” Environmentalists were concerned that allowing the sale of timber from forests cut for palm oil – termed “conversion timber” – would lead to a massive increase in deforestation in the West African nation by allowing companies to increase the size of their concessions at the expense of forests and wildlife. Moreover, environmentalists feared that any such move could undercut the last five years of work Liberia has done to clean up its logging industry. During Liberia’s two civil wars, which lasted a cumulative 11 years, former president Charles Taylor allegedly used the timber industry to finance conflict during which hundreds of thousands of people were killed and the country’s forests were decimated.