Sierra Leone has substantial mineral reserves, but still depends much on slash-and-burn cultivation for agriculture. Logging, clearing for cattle grazing, fuelwood collection, and mining have produced a dramatic drop in forest cover in Sierra Leone since the 1980s.
||Sierra Leone Forest Figures
Total forest area: 2,754,000 ha
% of land area: 38.5%
Primary forest cover: n/a
% of land area: n/a
% total forest area: n/a
Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -19,400 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -0.7%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 7.3%
Total forest loss since 1990: -290,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-9.5%
Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:n/a
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: n/a
None or unknown: 85.7
Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 2,754,000 ha
Modified natural: 2,751,000 ha
Production plantation: 3,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a
Plantations, 2005: 3,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 0.1%
Annual change rate (00-05): 80,000 ha
Above-ground biomass: n/a M t
Below-ground biomass: n/a M t
Area annually affected by
Fire: 200,000 ha
Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: n/a
Critically endangered: 0
Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: 137,000 m3 o.b.
Wood fuel: 6,414,000 m3 o.b.
Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: n/a
Wood fuel: n/a
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: n/a
More forest statistics for Sierra Leone
Until 2002, Sierra Leone lacked a forest management system due to a brutal civil war that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of more than 2 million people (about one-third of the population). On paper, 55 protected areas covered 4.5 percent of Sierra Leone as of 2003. The country has 2,090 known species of higher plants, 147 mammals, 626 birds, 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and 99 fish species.
In June 2005, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Bird-life International agreed to support a conservation-sustainable development project in the Gola Forest in southeastern Sierra Leone, the most important surviving fragment of rainforest in Sierra Leone.
Deforestation rates have increased 7.3 percent since the end of the civil war.
Mysterious pygmy hippo filmed in Liberia
(12/19/2011) Conservationists have captured the first ever footage (see video below) of the elusive pygmy hippo (Choeropsis liberiensis) in Liberia. The forest-dwelling, nocturnal species—weighing only a quarter of the size of the well-known common hippo (Hippopotamus amphibius)—has proven incredibly difficult to study. But the use of camera traps in Liberia's Sapo National Park has allowed researchers a glimpse into its cryptic life.
Sierra Leone creates rainforest park
(12/03/2011) Sierra Leone, one of Africa's poorest countries, today announced the establishment of Gola Rainforest National Park (GRNP), an area of forest home to chimpanzees, a key population of pygmy hippo, and hundreds of bird species, reports the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB).
Loss of old growth forest continues
(10/06/2010) A new global assessment of forest stocks by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows continuing loss of primary forests since 2005 despite gains in the extent of protected areas. FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010 reveals some 13 million hectares of forest were cleared between 2000 and 2010, down from around 16 million hectares per year during the 1990s. Loss of primary forest—mostly a consequence of logging—averaged 4.2 million hectares per year, down from 4.7 million hectares per year in the 1990s.
Sierra Leone cracks down on illegal logging by banning log exports
(01/02/2010) Sierra Leone has banned the transport and export of logs in an effort to crack down on illegal logging, reports AFP.
Sierra Leone bans timber exports
(01/15/2008) Sierra Leone has re-imposed a timber export ban after accusing foreign companies of illegally logging its forests, according to BBC News.
Poverty and corruption reduce effectiveness of rainforest parks
(07/09/2007) Poverty and corruption are linked to higher incidence of fire in tropical forest reserves, reports a new study published in the journal Ecological Applications. Poor, corrupt countries -- like Cambodia, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Sierra Leone -- have the least effective parks when measured in terms of the incidence of fire relative to surrounding "buffer" areas. The findings have significant implications for rainforest conservation efforts.
Goodbye to West Africa's Rainforests
(01/22/2006) West Africa's once verdant and extensive rainforests are now a historical footnote. Gone to build ships and furniture, feed hungry mouths, and supply minerals and gems to the West, the band of tropical forests that once extended from Guinea to Cameroon are virtually gone. The loss of West Africa's rainforests have triggered a number of environmental problems that have contributed to social unrest and exacerbated poverty across the region.
Unless otherwise specified, this article was written by Rhett A. Butler [Bibliographic citation for this page]
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Last updated: 4 Feb 2006