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.