Status and Trends of Biodiversity
It is believed that Liberia is the only country in West Africa that was once entirely covered with rain forests. More than 50% of the forest has disappeared over the years. Recent estimates show that the forest reduction rate is 1-2% per annum. Sites of special interest include Mount Nimba, Cestos-Senkwen River Shed, Lofa-Mano, and Sapo National Park, which are among the 14 centers of plant endemism within the upper Guinea hotspot. 13.5% of the country is covered with water on account, notably, of the six major rivers, which flow from mountains in the north and empty into the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, Liberia is home to five of the seven species of marine turtles worldwide. The fishery sector provides about 65% of the protein needs of the country, employs thousands of people and contributes about 10% to the GDP. Poverty and population pressures, shifting cultivation, coastal erosion, misguided timber exploitation, monoculture plantation development, poaching and hunting, as well as lack of land use planning are threatening Liberia’s biodiversity.