|Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea|
|Between Sierra Leone and Liberia, there is a small strip of land belonging to Guinea known as the "Parrot's Beak." As civil wars raged in Sierra Leone and Liberia, hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled to relative safety in Guinea, many of them settling in the Parrot's Beak. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that the refugee population constitutes up to 80 per cent of the local population there (UNEP 2000).|
The 1974 image of the Parrot's Beak in Guinea shows the surrounding territory of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Scattered throughout the deep green forest of the Parrot's Beak region are small flecks of light green, where compounds of villages with surrounding agricultural plots are located. Several dark spots in the upper left of the image are most likely burn scars.
The 2002 image shows the Parrot's Beak region clearly defined by its light green color surrounded by darker green forest. The light green color is the result of deforestation in the "safe area" where refugees have set up camp. Many of the refugees integrated into local villages, created their own family plots, and expanded the zones of converted forest area until they all merged into the larger defined area. In the upper part of the 2002 image the forest devastation is especially obvious, as areas that were green in the 1974 image now appear gray. Logging interests also moved into the higher elevations of this region, expanding the deforested zone visible in the upper left corner of the image.
Overall impoverishment of the environment of the Parrot's Beak is directly related to the rapidly increasing population in the area, mainly due to immigration, and a growth rate of about three per cent among the indigenous population. Natural resources are being exploited to create more arable land for crops, wood for charcoal, firewood and construction materials, and commercial logging for revenue.
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