Land and Resources, Environmental Issues
local extinction, fuelwood, soil degradation, desertification, Wildlife populations
Increasing demand by Sierra Leone’s growing population for farmland and fuelwood, along with pressure from the timber industry, has resulted in a high 2.9 percent (1990-2000) annual rate of deforestation. In 2000, 14.7 percent percent of the country’s total land area was forested. Much of the country’s wildlife habitat has been lost, and only 1.1 percent (1997) of the country’s land is protected. Wildlife populations are declining, and some species are threatened with local extinction. Overgrazing of livestock, slash-and-burn agriculture, and soil erosion caused by deforestation have also led to soil degradation.
Sierra Leone’s environment also suffers the effects of the civil war that ravaged the country beginning in 1991. The war depleted natural resources and disrupted public utilities. Only 57 percent (2000) of Sierra Leoneans have access to safe drinking water, and only 66 percent (2000) have access to adequate sanitation.
The government has ratified international environmental agreements pertaining to biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, law of the sea, and marine life conservation.
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