Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Sapo National Park

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Liberia's Sapo National Park is a largely undisturbed area (161 400 hectares) of lowland rain forest in the Upper Guinean Forest ecosystem. This ecosystem, which stretches from Cameroon to Guinea, has been decimated by logging, mining, and agriculture, leaving just three intact blocks, two of them in Liberia. Created in 1983, Sapo National Park was expanded by over 50 per cent in 2003. It is habitat for vulnerable and endangered species including the western chimpanzee, pigmy hippo, and forest elephant. The park's relatively pristine condition makes it an invaluable resource to Liberia and the world.

In the 25 years prior to Liberia's current government, the area of logging concessions granted totaled approximately 2.5 times the entire forested area of the country, with multiple concessions often overlapping one another. Concessions surrounded the area of Sapo National Park. Following a review of legality and status, all of the existing forest concessions were cancelled in February 2006. A year earlier, squatters who were illegally mining and poaching within Sapo were evicted.

The 1974 image shows the intact forest of the Sapo area prior to the park's creation. While roads and villages appear to have increased in the area surrounding the park, the 2001/2003 image shows that within the park itself, the forest remains in good condition.
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