Monrovia — In his address to the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations on September 23, Liberia’s President George Weah claimed that the country has nearly seven million hectares of forest constituting nearly half of the remaining Upper Guinea forest.
Report By: Varney Kelvin Sirleaf, Local Voices Liberia Fact Checker
The Liberia leader referenced the National Forestry Inventory conducted by the World Bank and the Kingdom of Norway as his reliance.
Said President Weah: “Our National Forest Inventory carried out with the support of the World Bank and the Kingdom of Norway reveals that Liberia is endowed with nearly seven million hectares of forest, representing nearly half of the entire remaining Upper Guinea forest in the West Africa region”.
When LocalVoicesLiberia fact checked the claim made by the President, we found that the statement was mostly correct.
First, we checked Liberia’s Forest inventory conducted by the Forestry Development Authority with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization which put the size of the country’s forest at 6.605 million hectares representing approximately 69 percent of Liberia’s total land surface.
The report noted that the value of the 2018/2019 National Forest Inventory differs from previous estimates because “it is the first time forest covers have been estimated in Liberia using the new forest definition and because it is [the most] comprehensive assessment of forest cover in Liberia”.
An FAO statement on the launch of the National Forest Inventory report dated March 30, 2021 quotes the Managing Director of the Forestry Development Authority as saying that the use of “available technology” puts Liberia’s forest at 6.6 million hectares”.
The survey to determine the size of Liberia’s forest was based on the use of technology such as Open Foris Collect Mobile Software – a system use for data collection.
In 2004, the size of Liberia’s forest was put at 4.3 million hectares, but the FAO 2021 statement noted that the “report did not take in to account actual ground works but rather used Landsat satellite images for its analysis”.
In addition to the FAO report, a November 2020 World Bank report titled “Liberia: Understanding People’s Dependence on Forests” also states that Liberia forest makes up more than two-third of the country’s land area and covers 6.69 million hectares. It adds that forestry is the fourth largest contributor to the Liberian economy, with the formal forest contributing 10% to GDP.
Our research outcome almost corroborates the statement made by President Weah in his address to the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations.
Although the President said that “Liberia is endowed with nearly seven million hectares of forest Liberia”, we found that both the World Bank and the National Forestry Inventory report which he referenced in his speech are almost correct.
Liberia has 6.6 million hectares of forest comprising approximately 43% of the remaining upper Guinea forest., which is 0.4 million less than the figure mentioned by President Weah. However, by these research findings the claim by President Weah is mostly correct.
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