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Rainforests - Deforestation in Sierra Leone Classroom Resources



Through the video students are introduced to Sierra Leone, how its civil war led to rural-urban migration which in turn has led to deforestation near the capital Freetown.

Key Issues

- How war can lead to environmental damage.
- Rural to urban migration.
- Deforestation vs poverty - where does the priority lie and who makes the choice?
- Rainforest deforesation.
- The impacts of deforestation.


The Sierra Leone civil war (1991-2002) led to large numbers of people migrating from rural areas where there was violence to the relative safety of the capital city Freetown on the coast. These people were mainly poor subsistence farmers and so when they arrived in Freetown and so looked to the forested area around the city to provide them a living. The clearing of trees for housing and farmland, as well as the chopping of wood to sell to earn a living has put increasing strain on the forests near the most densely populated area of the country. This has increased flood risk during the rainy season and endangered many local wildlife populations such as the chimpanzees.


Starter Activities

  Show these pictures of deforestation and life in Sierra Leone and use them to start a discussion on whether deforestation or poverty is the most important issue here.
     Find out more about the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone by watching the video here. How might chimps be affected by deforestation?


Enquiry Questions

 - Should the forests in Sierra Leone be protected, or should poor migrants be allowed to chop down wood to sell?

 - What could be done to protect the forests and help the poor migrants at the same time?
 - In Sierra Leone a war forced people towards the capital city, but why are millions of people moving from rural to urban areas in other countries all around the world?
 - What impacts are other conflicts around the world having on the environment?

Lesson Activities

The video throws up a number of different issues and could be incorporated into a variety of main lesson activities. Here are a few examples:

  • Look at other areas of deforestation around the world (e.g. Amazon rainforest, Indonesia). What are the main causes of deforestation in each place and how does the situation differ from Sierra Leone?
  • Use the worksheet to explore how different Atlantic countries are using their natural resources.  How does the situation in Sierra Leone differ from these other cultures?
  • Look at another case study of rural-urban migration. What are the different push and pull factors compared with Sierra Leone. How does the reality of city life differ from the imagined life when people leave rural areas?
  • Write a letter as a migrant in Sierra Leone explaining why you left the countryside to come to the city, why you cut down the trees, what your life is like and what your hopes are for the future.


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