In the wake of the Ebola Outbreak, Norway announced its plans to pay Liberia roughly $150 million dollars to stop deforestation by 2020. Liberia, a country with nearly 17,200 square miles of forests, is the first African country to agree to such a deal.
While this news may please environmentalists all over the world, it may not please the Liberian people, whom many depend on logging for survival, accounting for nearly 20% of the GDP in the 1990’s.
While the gesture may have been noble, the money is rather ill-timed especially considering the vast expenses that are being incurred because of the Ebola outbreak. The economy of Liberia, which timber provides nearly $100 million dollars in exports, needs to be expanded not shrunk.
The Liberian government plans on conserving nearly 40% of their forest which would be difficult to accomplish especially considering the expenses that would be required to protect all of reserves from illegal logging. Unique for developing countries who are usually desperate to find as much as jobs as they can to solve their unemployment issues, Liberia sacrifices its economy, illegal though it may be, for the sake of the environment.
With the Ebola epidemic looming over West Africa-a model by the CDC predicts up to 1.4 million infected by January 2015- it is admirable to see this country choose to look towards the future rather than towards its economy. Liberia serves as a paragon of self-sacrifice; most countries would refuse outright to sacrifice a great portion of their GDP for the Green cause. However, perhaps Norway should not pay Liberia, who depends on wood for cheap fuel and to fuel its stuttering economy, but rather IKEA, a Swedish-based company that uses a staggering 1% of the world’s yearly wood consumption.