Liberia GIS: National Plant Conservation Prioritisation
Specimen data from Liberian plant surveys, latterly undertaken by botanists at the University of Wageningen, has been used to identify concentrations of endemic, near-endemic and Red Data species that co-occur with surviving natural vegetation, and also, the identification of under-collected areas.
GIS map of Liberia showing percentage of primary vegetation (green indicates high level, red, areas with none).
Once completely covered with wet evergreen forest, Liberia still has about 40% forest cover and has more than 50% of the surviving wet forest in Upper Guinea (Sierra Leone, Guinea-Conakry, Ivory Coast, Ghana). After years of civil war, Liberia is once more stable, but looking to use revenues from logging for reconstruction. In order for logging to go ahead in as sustainable manner as possible, data is needed on the location of the most important areas for conservation so that these can be protected. The Liberian Government is being advised on this matter by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) who have a long-standing relationship with the post-conflict administration. FFI have commissioned a series of specimen-based field surveys by Jongkind of Wageningen in under-collected areas of Liberia. The specimen data from these surveys have been used to supplement an existing database for Upper Guinea, developed at Wageningen University Herbarium (WAG) for the earlier ECOSYN project. FFI have also funded databasing and georeferencing of historic Liberian specimens so that a reasonably complete, georeferenced data set is available of most Liberian plant specimens. A species checklist for Liberia has been developed by Jongkind with FFI support.
The involvement of RBG Kew in the project has been the execution of the GIS analysis of the WAG-FFI datasets. The objectives were the identification of concentrations of endemic, near-endemic and Red Data species that co-occur with surviving natural vegetation, and also, the identification of under-collected areas. The outputs are be maps and accompanying text which have been published on the web and will help enable the prioritisation of forest conservation in Liberia at a national level.
Project partners and collaborators
University Wageningen: Marc Sosef, Jan Wieringa
Fauna & Flora International: Jamison Suter