Liberia announces protection of 155,000-acres of forest

Washington, DC/Monrovia, Liberia Liberia today announced the protection of more than 155,000 acres of mostly intact forest. The increased protection helps safeguard the world's largest known population of the Critically Endangered Western Chimpanzee.

The head of Liberia's interim government, Gyude Bryant, published three new bills that represent a 60 percent increase in protected areas and a dramatic reform of its natural resource conservation policies. The Sapo National Park will expand by 123,550 acres, (50,000 ha) and the creation of the Nimba Nature Reserve will protect an additional 33,350 acres (13,500 ha). The Nimba Nature Reserve borders a World Heritage Site in neighboring Guinea and Cte d'Ivoire.

"Liberia's new government took a significant leap forward today by expanding its protected area system by 60 percent," said Alex Peal, Director of Conservation International (CI)-Liberia. "By safeguarding its natural resources, the people of Liberia will be able to enjoy a more sustainable long-term future."

The Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) at Conservation International and Fauna and Flora International worked together to co-implement the Liberia Forest Reassessment (LFR) project. The two groups used sophisticated technologies including satellite imagery and geographic information systems, (G.I.S.) as well as field surveys, to help the government demarcate the new borders of these protected areas, and also provided substantial technical input for the preparation of the new laws.

The European Union and Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund both supported the Liberia Forest Reassessment.

"These new protected areas open avenues for economic expansion through the ecological, social and recreational value of biological diversity," said Harry A. Greaves, Jr., Economic Advisor to Mr. Bryant.

Scientists estimate that 600,000 western chimpanzees once lived throughout western Africa, but fewer than 25,00

Contact: Brad Phillips
Conservation International

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