In Liberia—which contains a large part of western Africa's rainforest and hosts threatened species including western chimpanzees and forest elephants—deforestation, driven by illegal logging, has ranked below poverty and violence on the list of pressing national concerns. But, the BBC reports, Norway is now offering the country an incentive to change that—$150 million to save its valuable trees.
Under the Norway-Liberia deal, the BBC reports, Liberia will stop legal logging operations, build up protection infrastructure and programs for forested land and put 30 percent of the forested land under protected status by 2020.
This idea—protecting forested areas for future generations, while acknowledging the financial burdens of the present generation—has been around for awhile. But implementing it can be difficult.
Back in 2007 Ecuador asked the world to help finance the protection of their Yasuni National Park, a biologically important site that also happened to overlay a huge oil reserve. Not enough money was raised, and drilling was given the green light earlier this year.
Even when the money is on the table, conserving forested land can be difficult, as the Norwegians know all too well. Norway has entered into similar deals with other countries and organizations as a part of a 2007 promise to help prevent deforestation around the globe. A report last year by magazine Development Today found that a substantial portion of the aid that Norway had set aside to combat deforestation had yet to be dispersed for a variety of reasons, including a complicated funding structure and continued deforestation in some areas.
That’s why even people hoping for the best in the Liberia deal are proceeding with caution. Patrick Alley, director of the group Global Witness told the BBC, "There is the potential for this to go wrong, both Norway and Liberia will have to make sure that this deal does not get affected by corruption, but I am cautiously confident it can be done."