Globally important rainforests

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.

Liberia facts
Country in Africa

Size (land & water)

111,369 km²

Population (2016 est.)

4,299,944

GDP per capita (2016 est.)

US$900

Liberia is located in Africa. It is bordered by Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and Sierra Leone.

91%

Average relative humidity in Sapo National Park.

40%

of Liberia is still forested despite extensive logging.

Our work to protect Liberia’s biodiversity

Fauna & Flora International (FFI) began working in Liberia in 1997 and we played a crucial role, together with our partners, in re-establishing operations in the country’s oldest protected area – Sapo National Park – after years of civil conflict.

Drawing on this work in Sapo, we have since worked closely with our partners to help identify and prioritise sites for a protected area network across Liberia and establish the foundations for sustainable forest and environmental management.

We are also working extensively to improve collaboration between local, national, regional and private stakeholders across various sectors and national boundaries to reduce threats to biodiversity from subsistence pressures, oil palm operations and large-scale mining operations.

Recognising the value of Liberian forests for carbon storage, biodiversity conservation and community well-being, we are also playing a lead role in the development of REDD+ project sites in the country.

Community involvement in decision making is central to strengthening forest management and governance in a post-conflict Liberia, and we have supported a range of activities to ensure that communities within and surrounding East Nimba Nature Reserve, Wonegizi and Wologizi Proposed Protected Areas, and Sapo National Park are properly supported to engage in protected area management and conservation.

FFI is also supporting Liberia’s up-and-coming conservationists by helping to build conservation capacity at a national level – something that is currently limited due to a lack of practical and academic training opportunities. FFI is tackling these challenges by developing appropriate infrastructure and training courses, including university-level teaching as well as practical skills training such as biomonitoring, and conservation management skills such as proposal writing and grant management.