Sierra Leone has a land area of 7.1 million hectares and a population of about 6.2 million people. The climate in Sierra Leone is tropical and strongly influenced by the West African Monsoon, hot and humid with a single rainy season covering more than half of the year.

The total forest area is estimated at 1.0 million hectares of lowland moist and semi-deciduous forests which constitute the westernmost extent of West Africa Upper Guinea forest in the southeast. A savanna comprising grasses and bushes dominates northern Sierra Leone. The wildlife is typical of the Upper Guinea ecosystem, with a few locally endemic species, but with numerous species which find their westernmost range in Sierra Leone.

On paper, 55 protected areas covered 4.5 percent of Sierra Leone as of 2003. The country has 2,090 known species of higher plants, 147 mammals, 626 birds, 67 reptiles, 35 amphibians, and 99 fish species.

It is estimated that 36 000 ha of forests were lost in Sierra Leone from 1990 to 2000 for an annual deforestation rate of 2.9%. Slash and burn agriculture, logging, clearing for cattle grazing, fuelwood collection and mining have produced a dramatic drop in forest cover in Sierra Leone since the 1980s. After more than 10 years of the bloody civil war that ended in 2002, Sierra Leone with a GDP per capita estimated at only US$700 is facing the daunting task of reconstruction.

Sierra Leone’s National Policy on the Environment (1995) and the Environment Protection Act (2000) provide a blueprint for sustainable development in the country based on proper environmental management, with a particular emphasis on forests supported by the 1998 Forestry Act. Sierra Leone is also signatories to several international agreements on environmental practices and policies.


Capacity Building of Mano River Countries for Compliance to CBD (Supported by DARWIN INITIATIVE)