• Liberia

Forest resources and context of Liberia

Liberian forests represent over half of the remaining rainforests in West Africa, and they are dominated by moist evergreen forests and semi-deciduous forests.

Land surface


million ha

Forest cover


million ha

Production forest


million ha

Forest ownership


% publicly

Forest resources in Liberia

Types of forest

Liberian forests represent over half of the remaining rainforests in West Africa, and they are dominated by moist evergreen forests and semi-deciduous forests.

They are predominantly found in North Liberia (FAO, 2015).

Liberia has around 4.2 million hectares of forested land, which constitutes 43.4% of the total land area. The current deforestation rate is of 30,000 ha / year, with conversion for agriculture and mining being the main drivers. However, uncontrolled logging is a significant cause of forest degradation.

The Protected Forest Area Network Act (2003) aims at least 30% of the existing forest area of Liberia, representing about 1.5 million hectares. According to Fauna & Flora of Liberia and other sources, Liberia currently has five main protected forest areas: the Sapo National Forest (Sinoe County), the East Nimba Nature Reserve (Nimba County), the Lake Piso Multiple Use Reserve, the Gola National Forest Park (Gbarpolu County), and the Grebo-Krahn National Park (River Gee County/Sinoe), covering a total area of 454,800 ha, or 4.1 % of the country’s area.

These conserved forests have been hampered mainly by hunters, loggers and miners as reports have suggested over time. Several other areas are on the verge of being protected, and attempts are being made to connect existing protected areas using existing forests between them. The number of proposed areas for protection continues to increase with the discovery of the presence of endangered species and of diminishing ecosystem.

Forest ownership in Liberia

There are three types of forest ownership in Liberia:

  1. State forest (which by extension would entails public ownership)
  2. Community forest and
  3. Private forest

The Republic holds all forest resources in trust for the benefit of the People except for forest resources located in Communal Forests and forest resources that have been developed on private or deeded land through artificial regeneration.

The new ‘Land Rights Act’ (09/2018) details the four categories of land ownership now recognized and protected in Liberia and the associated use rights: Public Land, Customary Land, Government Land and Private Land. It also identifies Protected Land as common to all categories of land rights. Any land not belonging to any of the other three categories is now presumed to be customary land by default.

All forest resources are however owned by the state, except for those that are in communal forests and those that have been developed on private or deeded lands through artificial regeneration. Existing forest concessions located on newly recognized customary land will remain valid, but no more large concessions (FMCs) will likely be newly allocated. The communities will own the land, not the forest resource, but they will now be part of any forest logging contract: the community may lease customary land to a concessionaire for up to 50 years.

key figures

Land surface 9.6 million hectares
Forest cover 4.2 million hectares (43.4%);
mostly other naturally regenerated forest
Production forest 1.1 million hectares designated for production
Forest ownership 100%
Annual change rate -0.7 % per year; over the past 25 years (1990-2015)


Source: FAO, 2015
See also: Global Forest Ressources Assessment 2020, FAO

Global Forest Watch Map

Global Forest Watch Map Liberia