Sierra Leone is a small country on the coast of West Africa nestled amongst Guinea, Liberia and the Atlantic Ocean. Known for its beautiful beaches, Sierra Leone also hosts forested mountians, dry lands and mangroves among other ecosystems.
Considered part of a biodiversity hotspot diverse wildlife and plant species can be found throughout the country. Endangered species in Sierra Leone include the Diana and red colobus monkies, chimpanzee, green turtle, African wild dog, and pygmy hippopotamus.
In addition to biological resources, abundent mineral resources are also found with Sierra Leone’s borders. Diamonds, rutile (titanium dioxide) and bauxite are actively mined. Gold, platinum and petrolum exists as well.
While small, Sierra Leone’s population is ever expanding. An estimated 55 percent* of the citizens are youth (35 years old or younger). The high percentage of youth is important given the fragile political situtation as the dreams and actions of young people are one of the keys to a nation’s future.
A civil war ravaged Sierra Leone during the nineties leaving behind a humanatarian disaster and many development problems. Lack of clean water, a functioning transportation network and inadequate agriculture systems are just a few of the problems faced by this country.
Considered the second poorest country in the world* combined with a high reliance on natural resouces for both basic services (fuel wood, food, water regulation, etc.) and economic growth (mining), Sierra Leone must incorporate environmental management into its development and reconstruction plans.
Pertinant threats to the environment in Sierra Leone include:
- rapid population growth pressuring the environment through overharvesting of timber and slash-and-burn agriculture resulting in deforestation and soil exhaustion;
- depletion of natural resources like uncontrolled diamond mining during the civil war and current alluvial diamond mining; and
- overfishing and uncontrolled bush meat hunting.
In Sierra Leone, EFA works through the Environmental Forum for Action (ENFORAC) at the national policy level and in the field. The organization also manages two field sites – a nature preserve within the Western Area Peninsula Forest close to the capital, Freetown and Tiwai Island Wildlife Sanctuary situated on the Moa River in southeastern Sierra Leone.
*Encyclopedia of Sierra Leone, Development Assistance Coordination Office, 2006