Liberia has a vision for its future that includes peace and prosperity. After a 14-year conflict, the country has committed itself to democracy and its government is spearheading an approach to policy that will benefit the Liberian people while conserving its unique natural endowment.
Liberia's forests, part of the Guinean Forests of West Africa ecosystem, are home to many unique species and deliver essential ecosystem services upon which the country depends. The forests provide food (including bushmeat), fuel wood and building materials. They regulate climate by stocking and sequestering carbon, and ensure quality water provision by minimizing sedimentation and runoff. They ensure quality water provision by minimizing sedimentation and run-off. Forests also play a role in local culture, housing spiritual and sacred sites.
IN DEPTH: Learn more about the role of forests in mitigating climate change.
In an effort to support the Liberian government and local communities in following a development pathway that is based on sustainable use of natural resources and conserves ecosystem services, CI has undertaken a low-carbon economy analysis. The analysis considers the impacts of various policy scenarios to mitigate climate change and provide benefits for Liberians. The results have already generated high levels of interest from the Liberian government, prompting further consideration of the policy actions that would be required to make the Liberian low-carbon economy strategy a reality.
To prove the predicted benefits of implementing a low-carbon economy strategy, CI is also developing a field-level pilot in the East Nimba Nature Reserve (ENNR). The first step in developing the pilot case is to measure the economic benefits to human populations that the ecosystem services from ENNR provide. This analysis focuses on several ecosystem services, including carbon sequestration, biodiversity, non-timber forest products, water, and the conservation economy benefits resulting from Nimba's Protected Area status.
The aim is to demonstrate the extent to which people's basic needs like food and water are dependent upon ENNR. These benefits accrue to a wide variety of people, from local residents inside ENNR to residents of far-away places who benefit from the carbon sequestration and biodiversity inside the reserve. This analysis also aims to inform regional and national policymakers of the tradeoffs that are involved in protected area management, using ENNR as an example of how those tradeoffs play out in a specific landscape. ENNR will serve as the pioneering area in moving the national low-carbon economy strategy forward.
READ MORE: Liberia: A Future in Forests
A personal story
In 2010, CI's Media Director Rob McNeil traveled to Liberia. Read below about his experiences visiting communities and businesses working to build a new, sustainable economy in Liberia.