English  |  Español  |  Français

Sierra Leone - Country Profile

Show map

Status and Trends of Biodiversity


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 rain forest, semi-deciduous, montane, mangrove, savannah, farm bush and swamp forest. About 15,000 plants 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. 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 percent of mature forest remaining. Biological diversity in Sierra Leone is faced with diverse threats including logging for timber; fuel wood, charcoal and poles extraction, trade in bush meat and pets; slash-and-burn agriculture; mineral exploitation, civil conflict, over-fishing of marine resources; ill conceived policies, conflicting mandates and poverty.

Number and Extent of Protected Areas

With nearly 28 categories of protected areas in representative ecosystems, the area coverage is still less than 4 percent of the land area. Sierra Leone has 295,950 ha of forest, game reserves and national parks and 32,000 ha of community forest.

Percentage of Forest Cover

The lowland plains occupy about 43% of the country’s total land area. Just less than 5% of the country is occupied by mature forest. An estimated 200,000 to 300,000 ha of mangrove swamps fringes the coastline of Sierra Leone.

National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan

Major features of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan

The vision of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is to seek conservation measures that 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: establish and properly manage all protected areas; maintain essential ecosystem services and biological resources to sustain the growing population dependent on the use of biodiversity; create jobs through the conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity; create a fair redistribution of benefits and opportunities arising from the conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity; develop human capacity and provide a conducive environment for the participation of communities in the conservation of biodiversity; rehabilitate all mined and degraded areas; prevent the introduction and spread of harmful alien and genetically modified organisms; improve the general understanding of biodiversity through research, public education and awareness; and participate in and promote the sustainable utilization and conservation of biodiversity at the international level.

Rate this page - 66 people have rated this page 
  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme