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FREETOWN, Sierra Leone (AP) — Sierra Leone’s president is officially declaring the Gola Rainforest a national park.

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A statement from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security says that the Gola Rainforest has been identified as a “Biodiversity hotspot” and is of global importance because of its rich variety of plants and animals.

It said President Ernest Bai Koroma is making the declaration Saturday as part of a government action plan that recommends creating a national network of protected areas for terrestrial and wetland ecosystems across the country.

The Gola Rainforest National Park lies in the countries southeast at the border with Liberia.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds says the declaration of the over 71,000-hectare Gola Rainforest as a national park should subdue ongoing threats from logging and mining.

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