Top: An elevation image of a forest in Kokoyah District, Bong County. The DayLight/Derick Snyder

By Esau J. Farr

MONROVIA – Liberia recorded the tenth-largest increase in forest loss among countries across the world as of last year, according to a new study by an international think tank. 

Liberia lost 23 percent of its primary forest as of last year, the World Resources Institute (WRI) has found in its annual “Forest Pulse” report, which analyzes global forest loss and deforestation.

The report determined the rate of forest loss by comparing the average forest loss of countries from 2015-2022 to the average of 2020-2022.

Between 2002 and 2022, Liberia lost 315kha of humid primary forest, according to the Global Forest Watch, a  deforestation and illegal activity tracker, run by WRI.

The report calls on the Liberian government and governments of countries to move from making commitments to taking action to curb deforestation.  

“While some countries have shown promising results to reduce forest loss, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, others have seen continued activities and policies that are causing acceleration of deforestation in critical areas,” the report said.

“Protecting forests remains one of the most effective ways to mitigate global climate change and protect the people and biodiversity that depend on them — but time is running out,” the report added.

The increase in primary forest loss undermines Liberia’s conservation and climate change commitments. Per the National Forestry Reform Law, the country promised to preserve at least 30 percent of its 1.5-million-hectare rainforest, the largest in West Africa. It also pledged to reduce its national forestation rate by 50 percent in 2030. In September 2014, Liberia signed a US$150 million agreement with Norway to preserve at least 30 percent of its forest.

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As of last year, Ghana’s primary forest increase hit 71 percent, the highest in the world. In 2022 alone, Ghana lost 18,000 hectares of primary forest, the highest of any tropical country, the report says.

Liberia has the tenth-largest increase in primary forest loss worldwide, according to a report by the World Resource Institute (WRI)

Angola (52 percent) and Cameroon (40 percent) also make the list, at third and fourth places, respectively.

Indonesia leads the world with the highest decrease in primary forest loss, with 64 percent. The report cited government policies and corrective actions as contributors to the reduction.  

Costa Rica followed in second place, with a 63 percent reduction.

Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea reduced their primary forest losses by 47 percent and 38 percent, the fifth and seventh respectively.

Gabon, the report says, continues to reduce its primary forest loss, with 41 percent as of last year.

This story was a production of the Community of Forest and Environmental Journalists of Liberia (CoFEJ).

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