Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Natural resources in Guinea's coastal zone are crucial to local economies, which depend on their immediate environment for freshwater, fuelwood, fisheries, and agriculture. Guinea's coastal zone is also home to one-fourth of West Africa's mangroves, which are linked to the vitality of the terrestrial and marine ecosystems that they bridge. These resources are being exploited at an unsustainable pace due to rapid population growth which without changes in resource management practices will lead to irreversible environmental degradation.

Population in Guinea's resource-rich coastal zone nearly tripled between 1963 and 1996. In the capital of Conakry, rural-to-urban migration, including refugees from Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, dramatically increased the population. Estimated at approximately 39 000 in the 1960s, Conakry's population had increased to nearly two million by 2006. Conakry's growing population puts intense pressure on the surrounding woody savannahs and mangroves, which are being converted to agriculture and exploited for fuelwood.

Conakry was founded on Tombo Island at the tip of Kaloum Peninsula. Its growth since then has followed the peninsula, hemmed in on either side by mangrove forests. In the 1975 image, dense settlement has reached the airport and beyond, but natural vegetation still covered much of the area. By 2007, however, nearly all of that vegetation has been overtaken by Conakry's rapid growth.
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