Creating Equitable Livelihoods in Liberia

Boy from local community carrying water, Liberia. © CI/John Martin
The challenges the people of Liberia face after 14 years of civil war – a war that left the nation in tatters – are great.

But despite these challenges, there is opportunity.

Forests once ravaged by conflict have started to heal. And people once crushed by poverty and unemployment are on the mend.

The danger is that meeting the immediate humanitarian needs of the country in the short term could sacrifice sustainable development needs over the long term – potentially fueling conflict, as was the case in the past.

That’s where CI’s innovative Conservation Growth Poles program comes in. We are helping the people of Liberia revive both their economy and their environment.

Liberia is home to half of the Guinean Forests of West Africa and many threatened species including the pygmy hippopotamus and white-breasted guinea fowl. Without sufficient information and alternatives for rural people, hunting and forest loss will destroy this remarkable biological wealth. Further, the destruction of Liberia’s forest systems will lead to the loss of valuable ecological services that provide greater stability in the lives of the rural poor.

Smiling children in Mamba Point, Liberia, Africa. © CI/Russ MittermeierCI is working with the government of Liberia to use emerging international carbon markets to put Liberia’s forests to work for the country’s population over the long run. Carbon markets provide financial incentives for activities that reduce carbon emissions – like preventing the burning and clearing of forests.

Global forest carbon markets have the potential to generate tens of billions of dollars annually and provide forest-rich nations with access to sustainable financial resources.

CI believes that Liberia is poised to play a critical international role as a champion for forest carbon’s role in biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and economic development.

Learn more about the future in the forests.

Frank Hawkings is Head of Africa Programs at Conservation International.

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