English  |  Español  |  Français

Sierra Leone - Main Details

Show map

Biodiversity Facts

Status and trends of biodiversity, including benefits from biodiversity and ecosystem services

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Sierra Leone is divided into 4 main relief regions: coastline, interior lowland plains, interior plateau and mountains. Broadly classified, there are 7 vegetation types, which include the moist rainforest, semi-deciduous, montane, mangrove, savannah, farm bush and swamp forest. About 15,000 plant species have been identified. Fish stocks of Sierra Leone are the most diverse along the west coast of Africa. About 213 species of pelagic and demersal fish stocks have been recorded so far. The status on the threatened animal species indicates that there are 761 species of mammals and birds (of the bird species, six are threatened with extinction). There are 15 primates, all of which are either endangered or vulnerable. Of the 18 antelopes, two are extinct and 16 are threatened. Other mammals like elephants and hippos have been drastically reduced.

It is estimated that 170 mammal species exist in Sierra Leone, 70 crop species (16 of which are commonly grown throughout the country), while 274 bird species have been recorded, including 14 species of global conservation concern. The globally near threatened, Sterno balaenarum, was recorded in Sierra Leone for the first time in 1994. The African Waterfowl Census in 1995 also recorded 13,168 water birds.

Sierra Leone is an agricultural country. About 80% of the people are exclusively dependent on farming for their livelihood, and more than 90% of the farming population cultivates rice. It is estimated that a total area of 209,000 ha are under cultivation in the Northern Province, followed by 103,000 ha and 98,000 ha in the Eastern and Southern Provinces, respectively.

The crops cultivated are divided into two main groups: perennials and annuals. The perennials include oil palm, cocoa, coffee, cola nuts, coconut palm, mango, rubber, cashew, sugar cane, pineapple, ginger, piassava, banana and plantain. The major annual crops cultivated are rice, cassava, sweet potato, groundnut, maize, cow peas, pigeon peas and assorted vegetables.

Main pressures on and drivers of change to biodiversity (direct and indirect)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Human impacts on the natural ecosystems and resources have been severe. Once dominated by forest (70% of land area), the country now has less than 5% of mature forest remaining. Biological diversity in Sierra Leone is faced with diverse threats such as: logging for timber; fuel wood, charcoal and poles extraction; trade in bushmeat and pets; slash-and-burn agriculture; mineral exploitation; civil conflict; over-fishing of marine resources; ill conceived policies; conflicting mandates; poverty. The ten-year rebel war has further threatened and accelerated the extinction of some of the biodiversity.

Measures to Enhance Implementation of the Convention

Implementation of the NBSAP

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (2003) seeks to identify conservation measures that will provide a solid framework for the sustainable exploitation of Sierra Leone’s biological diversity for the benefit of present and future generations. The achievement of this vision will hinge upon the participation of a well-informed civil population through the implementation of the following objectives by 2025: establishment and proper management of all protected areas; maintenance of essential ecosystem services and biological resources to sustain the growing population dependent on the use of biodiversity; creation of jobs through the conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity; fair redistribution of benefits and opportunities arising from the conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity; development of human capacity and provision of a conducive environment for the participation of communities in the conservation of biodiversity; rehabilitation of all mined and degraded areas; prevention of the introduction and spread of harmful alien and genetically modified organisms; improvement of the general understanding of biodiversity through research, public education and awareness; and participation in and promotion of the sustainable utilization and conservation of biodiversity at the international level.

Actions taken to achieve the 2020 Aichi Biodiversity Targets

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

• Established training relationships with developed and developing countries (e.g. South Africa, Cyprus) which provide opportunities for overseas training in these areas.

• Use of television and radio programmes to educate the public on the importance of biodiversity conservation.

• Publication of an environmental bulletin and celebration of World Environment Day through tree planting exercises countrywide; use of nature clubs in school.

• Local environmental NGOs are supported in communication, education and awareness-raising initiatives.

• The World Bank Project on Protected Area Management will support rural biodiversity management initiatives through micro-financing schemes.

• The Artisanal Fisheries Development Programme (AFDEP) on sustainable fisheries and aquaculture was implemented with the view to promote the sustainable utilization of the fisheries sector and also formed a part of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP).

• The Gola Forest Conservation Concession Programme in the eastern part of Sierra Leone involves collaboration with international NGOs through MOUs and other agreements to promote the participation of local communities in decision-making, through training and skills development for their effective participation, while also contributing to implementation of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11 (Protected Areas).

• The National Environmental Protection Act (2000) makes provision for proposed development projects that may have adverse effects on biodiversity to carry out EIA.

• Guidelines and Procedures to undertake EIA are in place.

Support mechanisms for national implementation (legislation, funding, capacity-building, coordination, mainstreaming, etc.)

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

The Government of Sierra Leone has enabled several notable pieces of legislation to support national implementation of biodiversity targets which can be categorized based on which sector they target (e.g agro-biodiversity, forest biodiversity, marine biodiversity).

There are several piecemeal legislations on agriculture but notable amongst them is the one enacted in 1946 captioned “An Ordinance for the Control and Preservation of Agricultural Produce”.

It is hoped that the Government’s commitment to biodiversity conservation will see increased budgetary allocations, with additional funding being sought from bilateral donors to the Sierra Leone Government, private sector businesses, and fees and royalties from the potential exploitation of biodiversity. All the financial resources marshaled will be deposited into a National Biodiversity Trust Fund, with the accruing interest utilized for conservation-related activities.

Current activities in biodiversity conservation are not well coordinated, and cross-sectoral interactions in the implementation of biodiversity issues are non-existent in the relevant government ministries. A unit or secretariat responsible for biodiversity will serve to build the capacity of all relevant institutions by providing training, mobilizing and utilizing existing expertise and resources, and ensuring that all the relevant institutions collaborate in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity.

International and national NGOs are involved in the implementation of conservation programmes in schools and communities (e.g. Environmental Foundation for Africa, Conservation Society of Sierra Leone).

Mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation

The content of this biodiversity profile is still draft. The text below has been prepared by SCBD and remains subject to final approval by the Party concerned.

Sierra Leone does not have a comprehensive monitoring programme in place. The identification of indicators for national-level monitoring of biodiversity is still in progress. Programmes do exist for controlling forestry licensing, monitoring annual rainfall, levels of chlorofluorocarbons and the use of inappropriate fishing nets and gear, among other programmes. The Sierra Leone Navy also patrols the territorial waters of Sierra Leone to monitor the activities of foreign fishing vessels in a bid to minimize unsustainable fishing practices.

Rate this page - 67 people have rated this page 
  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme