Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
Sapo National Park, coastal mangroves, firewood collection, new national parks, river bottoms
Rich in biodiversity, Liberia was almost entirely forested until recent decades. Forest and woodland now cover only 36 percent (2000) of the land, although much of this is relatively undisturbed tropical wet forest. Shifting agriculture is the major cause of forest loss, but logging is an increasingly important factor. In addition to deforestation, major environmental threats include soil erosion and water pollution from mine tailings in rivers to oil and sewage along the coast. Wetlands in river bottoms and coastal mangroves are also threatened by agriculture and firewood collection. There are 30 (2001) threatened species in Liberia.
Although there are ten national forests in Liberia, logging is permitted within them. The only truly protected land is in Sapo National Park—protected land makes up only 1.3 percent (1997) of the country’s area. A well-developed national conservation plan, including several new national parks, nature reserves, and sophisticated management schemes, was proposed in the late 1980s, but development was shelved because of civil war.
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