When it comes to the environment, Liberia is a shining example of conservation’s role in stability in West Africa. On the continent’s west coast, forests once ravaged by a 14-year conflict have started to heal. People once crushed by poverty and unemployment are on the mend.
Liberia’s landscape and people are welcoming the consequences of peace. As part of that process, they are hard at work reviving both their economy and their environment.
Protecting the nation’s forests is a critical part of their success. Liberia’s millions of acres of forest comprise half of the remaining forest cover in West Africa. As those forests get healthier, animals unique to West Africa that rely on them to survive will increasingly thrive – from the Western chimpanzee to the pygmy hippo. People too will reap the rewards of healthy forests that can stand the test of time. To ensure that happens, a 2006 law adopted under President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf aims to protect certain forests from development while regulating others for both community benefit and commercial logging.
The race is not yet over. Though warlords no longer damage the forests, other threats still do. People are migrating back to rural areas to resettle and start fresh. With unemployment high, many of them turn to hunting, mining, and logging. CI is working with the government and other partners to create rural economies centered on conservation. Still, slowly, but surely, Liberia is on its way.
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