The government’s move follows publication of a report by Global Witness, which says that new logging permits – called Private Use Permits – now cover 40% of Liberia’s forests and almost half of the country’s best intact forests.

The NGO said the issue could lead to over-exploitation of Liberia’s rainforests and needed to be tackled immediately. Global Witness claims the new permits allow private landowners to cut trees on their property and were being used by companies to avoid Liberia’s forest laws and regulations.

“Companies holding these permits are not required to log sustainably and pay little in compensation to either the Liberian government or the people who own the forests for the right to export valuable tropical timber,” it said.

As well as suspending forestry chief Moses Wogbeh, the government has launched an investigation into the logging permits in a bit to prevent illegally-logged timber from being supplied.