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MAF, ECOWAS meet to validate National Forest Investment Plan

October 15, 2019

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Participants at the workshop

The Forestry Department of the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the ECOWAS Commission yesterday commenced a two-day validation workshop on the Development of a National Forest Investment Plan in Sierra Leone.

Acting as the keynote speaker at the opening of the workshop, Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Ndanema, expressed appreciation for the meeting which he said was timely and noteworthy.

He underscored that the country’s forest is going at a rapid pace and that attention and actions are urgently required to restore it for the future generation.

He said President Bio, through the New Direction administration made an important pledge at the just concluded United Nations General Assembly that he would ensure that his government protect the forest and live behind a healthy environment for the future generation.

He emphasised the need to move away from the conventional way of doing things because the issue around the environment is so compounded that it requires the involvement of all, using community based approach.

He noted that in order  to effectively fight against deforestation, they needed serious and urgent  funding from the government and donor partners, adding that engaging the private sector for a possible investment in the forest would be key to confronting the problem of deforestation.

“Forestry can be done as a business to guarantee it sustainability. We must position ourselves to look at the value chain,” he said.

He disclosed that they have embarked on a tree planting exercise across the country and that they would plant about one million trees before the years ends.

He called on participants to do due diligence to the validation workshop and made significant input to the document under review.

Assistant Country Representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, Joseph Brima said the meeting was very important because the issue of deforestation has the potential to derail the country’s development.

He said Sierra Leone used to be 98% covered by forest, but that human activities over the years has reduced it to 5%, hence the need to put in place robust plan to end deforestation.

He said the country has 48 protected forest regimes which remain volatile because they lack the required support to sustain them.

He underscored the need for an inclusive approach, moving away from the conventional way of protecting the environment and adopts a community based management of the country’s forest.

He promised that FOA would fully support the implementation of the National Forest Investment Plan that would be validated by stakeholders.

Chief Agriculture Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture,Sorrie M.Kamara,acting in the capacity of chairman of the ceremony, said the workshop marked a significant milestone for the forestry division of the ministry and that they wanted to do due diligence by promoting good governance and restore the country’s forest.

He emphasised the importance of forest to human existence, which he said can ensure the achievement of sustainable growth in the country if properly managed.

 He said the ministry was worried about the persistent deforestation taking place across the country and that they are putting in mechanism in place to ensure it sustainability.

Principal Programme Officer and Head of Natural Resource Division, ECOWAS Commission, Moussa Leko, said there was limited cooperation among member countries when it comes to the protection of the forest, and that some organisations approached the commission to propose a framework geared towards the protection of forest reserves in the sub-region.

He said the process started by what he referred to as forest dialogue and that ministers from member states adopted the West African Forest Convergence Plan.

He said the ECOWAS Commission supported Sierra Leone to develop and validate the National Forest Investment Plan.

Representative from the ECOWAS National Office, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development,Saffa Kanneh,said ECOWAS has over the years  been supporting the Ministry of Agriculture with technical and other assistance.

He said the fight against deforestation has taken a world stage and that in order to protect the forest, there was need for a robust policy.