Unit VII Research Paper
SOC 2010, Cultural Geography
Columbia Southern University
Unit VII Research Paper
Introduction of Problem
For this assignment I will be discussing the country of Liberia and the issue I will be covering rain forest deforestation. This paper will cover a brief description of Liberia, such as the size of the country, its population, when it was founded, a description of the issue that I am covering, why it is a problem, and some solutions to hopefully combat the issue. This country has been trying to break away from its history and environmental issues in hopes of developing into a more sustainable country that can be compared to those it now seeks assistance from. This is a fascinating country that can’t help but step on its own toes and never seems to get out of its own way. If it can follow through with a few of the solutions I will outline below it will be closer in the future to the country it strives to one day be.
Liberia is located on the western coast of Africa, it was founded by freed slaves from the United States of America in 1822. It is surrounded by Sierra Leone to the west, Guinea to the north, Cõte D’Ivoire the east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. The country is roughly 43, 000 square miles or around the same size as the state of Tennessee for a comparison. It’s capitol city is Monrovia getting its namesake from U.S. President James Monroe and is located on the Atlantic coast. The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reported the population of Liberia in July 2015 to be approximately 4,195,666, which placed it at number 128 in population among the 238 countries, dependencies, and territories of the world, (The World Factbook: LIBERIA, 2018). Liberia boasts a very substantial forest that covers 4.2 million ha or around 44% of the total land area. It has about 235 different species of timber that grow and of that number there are roughly 90 that are profitable.
The export agricultural sector consists of cocoa, lumber, coffee, palm oil, rubber, and sugar cane, (The World Factbook: LIBERIA, 2018). Firestone plantations began exporting rubber in 1934 to stimulate development of the country. This has led to the mass rain forest deforestation that has now resulted in many environmental issues throughout the country. Deforestation is defined in my Human Geography text book as the removal of trees from a forested area without adequate replanting, (Knox & Marston, 2016). The mass deforestation has also contributed to the loss of biodiversity, depletion of forest resources and changes in the weather pattern. Loss of forest is normally connected with loss of habitat and biodiversity as well as extreme climate events. The continued deforestation of Liberia has led to it being susceptible to extreme climate change and other weather events. A classic example is the misuse and abuse of the Private Use Permit coupled with ownership of most logging companies belonging to government officials. While a few wealth-obsessed individuals are cutting down the trees, the effects of changes in the weather pattern are being felt across the already poverty-stricken country, (Africa News Service, 2017). Although the forest of Liberia has the most diversity and is unrivaled by any other west African country it is also at the brink of disaster due to human exploits. From 2003 to 2012, the forest of Liberia has been depleted through Illegal logging leaving the forest into a blind alley by losing approximately 400,000 hectares with an average rate of 9,000 hectares per year. The deforestation rate is 0.6% in Liberia and this rate is so high to the extent that is about three times the global average, (Africa News Service, 2017). Environmentalists warned for years that illegal timber trading could cause massive deforestation in Liberia, the most heavily forested
country in western Africa, (Africa News Service, 2014). Of all the issues that Liberia faces the issue of deforestation is one that it can fix if it starts now and enforces the suggested changes that will follow below.
Liberia as a country will have to stop relaying on short-term financial gains of deforestation and look more towards the long-term environmental benefits it will acquire from taking a proactive approach to saving its forests. Saving the forests now is one way to avoid grave climate changes like flooding and change of temperatures. There are multiple ways that Liberia can save its forest. Liberians can’t sit ideally by and wait for their leaders to enact policies that will protect the forest, they need to educate the youth on environmentally safe and sustainable practices that will ensure their forest’s future.
To do the above Liberians will need to first create the culture through study, education, and environmental renewal throughout its country. The unfolding danger, direct threats to the environment and its species including biodiversity which caused by deforestation and human
activities are thwarting. And flooding the complexities of environmental issues that vary from deforestation, pollution, environmental degradation flooding has significant impacts on human health, (Africa News Service, 2017). The subsequent recommendations are a list of possible things that could help in preservation of the forests and lessening of flooding.
Implementation of a sustainable reforestation program, reforestation is an efficent improvement strategy to combat global warming. In addition to helping the climate, reforestation helps guard vital species of animals. Reforestation helps to reconstruct habitats and degradation which are the principal threats to the health of a species. This initiative will be a paramount in maintaining the future of Liberia’s environment. The problem I could see with this program would be getting buy in from the Liberian people because it would take an extreme effort on their part.
Create a trustworthy sovereign establishment in regulating concession developments and scrutinizing social and environmental situations until sustainability is met. An agency such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations would be ideal but something similar to this would work as well. Until Liberia is in a suitable state of sustainability it needs to lend the reigns over to someone who has its best interests at heart. This would be one of the harder things to get the majority of Liberians to understand but also very beneficial to them in the future.
Develop a flood monitoring and prediction program to warn its citizens against the potential issue. By warning the people of Liberia of potential flood they can better prepare their environment to lessen the damage. Timely flood warnings would only be effective if the Liberian people were trained appropriately on the level of preparedness and correct response procedures. This would require a giant push on the educational side but would pay big dividends once it is properly implemented and utilized. The issue with this idea is that it would require a significant amount of money and education to get started.
These are only three ideas or recommendations that would benefit the country of Liberia but they would all help not only the environment but the people of Libera. More forest means more controlled climate, more biodiversity, and less flooding. Of the three ideas presented I believe the best one would be the sustainable reforestation program. This program has the biggest advantages for the country itself and would be the most beneficial.
In this paper I discussed and overview of Liberia which included a brief description of Liberia, such as the size of the country, its population, and when and who founded it. I also covered the issue of mass deforestation, why it was a problem to the country and its people. I also outlined three recommendations that Liberia can take to ensure its future. Although Liberia is taking steps to ensure its country is taken care of in this department it still needs help. That’s why the country’s leaders entered into an agreement with Norway. Under the terms of the agreement, Norway will help Liberia to initially build up the capacity to monitor and police the forests.
Liberia will refrain from issuing any new logging concessions until all existing ones have been reviewed by an independent body. The country agrees to place 30% or more of its forest estate under protected area status by 2020. It will also pilot direct payments to communities for protecting the forest, (McGrath, 2014). If Liberia follows the terms of this agreement it will all the better for it, hopefully it does just that.