Liberia has a land area of 11.1 million hectares and a population of 3.3 million people. The south of Liberia has an equatorial climate with rainfall throughout the year. The northern regions are tropical, under the strong influence of the West Africa Monsoon.
The total forest area is estimated between 3.48 and 5.66 million hectares of which perhaps only 3.4 million is relatively intact. The intact forest is made up of the south-eastern block of very wet evergreen forest and a drier, Upper Guinean moist evergreen and semi-deciduous forest in the northwest. The 2.26 million hectares of poorer forest cover comprise 1.0 million of forest land that had been subject to agricultural pressure and another 1.3 million hectares severely damaged to the point that only islands and patches of forest remain. Liberia’s forests constitute the largest remaining blocks of the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem, a threatened global hotspot for biodiversity, home to many rare and endangered flora and fauna. At the latest count in 2005, the country was home to 2,200 species of plants, 193 mammals, and 576 bird species.
Between 1990 and 2000, the annual deforestation rate in Liberia was estimated at 2%, bringing the country to a total lost of 760,000 hectares of forest during that period. The main causes are excessive and uncontrolled logging accelerated during the civil war, and shifting agriculture by subsistence farmers. Much of Liberia economy was destroyed during the civil war and the country’s GDP per capital stands at only US$500.
In 2006, Liberia passed a new forestry law that opened a new era for the forestry sector reforms after a long period of mismanagement and exploitation of forest resources to fuel conflict. The new legislation allows for the implementation of Liberia’s first ever forestry policy which balances the community, conservation and commercial interests to produce a range of goods and services for the benefit of the Liberia people. Liberia is signatories to several international agreements on environmental practices and policies.