Norway will give Liberia up to $150m (£92.1m) over the next six years to fund protective measures aimed at stamping out illegal logging in its agricultural sector, which some scientists believe may have contributed to the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
The funds will “improve forest governance, strengthen law enforcement, and support efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation”, both governments said.
West Africa is gripped by an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that has claimed the lives of 2,917 people so far, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Scientists have speculated that the crisis could have been driven by illegal logging that unleashed Ebola-infected fruit bats into contact with people, sending the outbreak out of control.
“Inhabitants in the region do indeed anecdotally report an exceptionally arid and prolonged dry season, perhaps linked to the extreme deforestation of the area over recent decades. At present, we can only speculate that these drier ecologic conditions somehow influence the number or proportion of Ebola virus–infected bats and/or the frequency of human contact with them,” according to a study co-published in July by Daniel Baus.