Liberia to halt deforestation by 2020

by Developed Africa 25. September 2014 09:00

Norwegian officials have released details of a deal struck with the Liberian government that will see the West African country receiving £150m to stop deforestation by 2020.

 

Liberia, a globally-recognised biodiversity hotspot, contains about 43% of the Upper Guinean forest, a significant part of West Africa’s remaining rainforest. Illegal logging has been a growing problem since the end of the civil war in 2003, prompting the government to introduce regulatory practices such as the electronic tagging of lumber trees.

The Norwegian deal comes at a time when the country’s economy has been weakened as a result of the recent Ebola outbreak, with the logging industry being seen as a possible tool to counteract this. The possibility of this accelerated activity bringing populations into contact with natural reservoirs of the virus may, however, perpetuate the crisis.

Norwegian political adviser Jens Frolich Holte has said in a statement to the BBC:

Our hope is that the situation there now will be contained and resolved. But we also need to give Liberia a long term hope for development and that is what this rainforest money will provide for them, a long term vision for a country with reduced poverty and reduced deforestation”

The change in direction has been praised by environmental campaigners, who successfully protested against the release of licences to companies to cut down 58% of the country’s remaining primary rainforest in 2012.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the country has agreed to place 30% or more of its forest estate under protected area status by 2020, alongside piloting direct payments to communities for protecting the forests. Norway will also be helping Liberia to build capacity to monitor and police the forests in the early days of the deal.

Liberian campaigner and Goldman Environmental laureate Silas Siakor has commented:

This partnership holds promise not only for the forest and climate; but for forest communities that have been marginalised for generations".

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