Liberia is a relatively small country in West Africa, situated above the equator and bordering Sierra Leone, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire and the Atlantic Ocean.
The country’s coastline is characterised by lagoons, sandbars, brackish marshes and mangrove swamps. Inland, rolling coastal plains and grasslands transition into tropical rainforests, dotted with low mountains, with the highest elevations in the north-east and north-west.
Liberia is also home to large sections of Upper Guinean Forest – one of the world’s great tropical forest ecosystems that is rich in endemic and rare species. Diana monkeys, chimpanzees, pygmy hippos and many other endangered species all rely on this forest for their survival.
This is, however, one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite being Africa’s first and oldest modern republic, it has been rocked by political instability, civil war and severe outbreaks of the Ebola virus, and is ranked 177th out of 188 on the Human Development Index.
It is therefore little surprise that Liberia’s natural resources are under extreme pressure from threats such as slash-and-burn agricultural expansion, mining (both illegal and legal), and poaching, all of which put the country’s natural resources – and those who depend on them – at risk.