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Liberia Forest Figures

Forest Cover
Total forest area: 3,154,000 ha
% of land area: 32.7%

Primary forest cover: 129,000 ha
% of land area: 1.3%
% total forest area: 4.1%

Deforestation Rates, 2000-2005
Annual change in forest cover: -60,200 ha
Annual deforestation rate: -1.8%
Change in defor. rate since '90s: 17.3%
Total forest loss since 1990: -904,000 ha
Total forest loss since 1990:-22.3%

Primary or "Old-growth" forests
Annual loss of primary forests: n/a
Annual deforestation rate: n/a
Change in deforestation rate since '90s: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990: n/a
Primary forest loss since 1990:0.0%

Forest Classification
Public: n/a
Private: n/a
Other: n/a
Production: 41.5%
Protection: n/a
Conservation: 4.1%
Social services: n/a
Multiple purpose: 48.3%
None or unknown: 6.2

Forest Area Breakdown
Total area: 3,154,000 ha
Primary: 129,000 ha
Modified natural: 3,017,000 ha
Semi-natural: n/a
Production plantation: 8,000 ha
Production plantation: n/a

Plantations, 2005: 8,000 ha
% of total forest cover: 0.3%
Annual change rate (00-05): n/a

Carbon storage
Above-ground biomass: 731 M t
Below-ground biomass: 175 M t

Area annually affected by
Fire: n/a
Insects: n/a
Diseases: n/a

Number of tree species in IUCN red list
Number of native tree species: n/a
Critically endangered: 0
Endangered: 4
Vulnerable: 42

Wood removal 2005
Industrial roundwood: n/a
Wood fuel: 5,918,000 m3 o.b.

Value of forest products, 2005
Industrial roundwood: n/a
Wood fuel: n/a
Non-wood forest products (NWFPs): n/a
Total Value: n/a

More forest statistics for Liberia

While Liberia's brutal civil war delayed the commercial exploitation of its rainforests during the 1990s, "conflict timber" was a key source of revenue for warring factions. The harvesting of this wood, combined with collateral damage from military operations and wildlife poaching, took a heavy toll on Liberia's forests. With the end of the war, Liberia's new government—which took power at end of the war in 1998—immediately established forestry as a national priority and instituted a five-year tax holiday on timber industries. This policy, combined with the return of commercial interests to the country, repopulation, and reconstruction efforts, has put pressure on Liberia's remaining forest resources. Since the close of the 1990s, deforestation rates have increased by 17 percent, and primary forest cover in the country has fallen to just over 1.3 percent of the total land area (or 4.1 percent of the forest cover).

After granting large concessions to timber firms, the Liberian government essentially lost control over logging in much of the country. In June 2005, the director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Liberia warned that the forest and its associated resources were at a very "high risk of facing depletion" from illegal logging and land invasions by gold miners.

Since the United Nations Security imposed strict sanctions on Liberia in 2003, the government has not legitimately earned any revenue from the timber sector. As such, virtually all logging in Liberia has been illegal and will continue to be until the country is able to meet conditions set forth by the UN which include: increased transparency in timber transactions, government control over the forestry sector, and the banishment of the use of militias by logging firms. Until the government is able to rein in illicit activities in the country's forests, illegal logging will continue to take a heavy toll on Liberia's natural resources. Further pressure from subsistence activities—about 98% of the country's energy needs are met by fuelwood and charcoal according to the ITTO—will not help the situation.

Despite these challenges, things may be looking up for Liberia's forests. After announcing the expansion of Sapo National Park and the creation of the Nimba Nature Reserve in 2003, the government has worked with international NGOs to monitor and address illegal activities in the country's national park. In November 2005, Conservation International (CI) led a survey to assess Liberia`s remaining biodiversity. At last count, the country was home to 2,200 species of plants, 193 mammals, and 576 bird species.

On paper, nearly 16 percent of Liberia is now under some form of protection.

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Last updated: 4 Feb 2006