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EFA launches report on EVD & forest fragmentation

September 23, 2015 By Victoria Saffa

The Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA), with technical help from the Environmental Resource Management (ERM) Foundation, yesterday launched a report on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) and forest fragmentation in Africa. The ceremony took place at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) office on Wilkinson Road in Freetown.

Chairperson at the event, Kate M.B. Karemo-Garnett, stated that the overall objective of the report was to integrate environmental sustainability issues in the post-Ebola recovery plan and long-term development approaches.

She said the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has resulted in more than 11,000 deaths, massive social upheaval and billions of dollars lost in economic activity.

Acting Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Momodu Al-Rashid Bah, stated that the origin of the Ebola virus in the three West African countries illustrated the linkages, inter-relationship between biodiversity and human health, which he said calls for rigorous scientific research to determine those linkages.

He said it was a matter of urgency that the affected countries should consider biodiversity and health linkages in the preparation of their post-Ebola and development plans and national health strategies, in line with environmental sustainability and proposed sustainable development goals.

“As we all are aware, deforestation is one of the major environmental challenges in Sierra Leone. The remaining 4-5% of the country’s original forest cover is reducing and urgent action needs to be taken to protect the rich biodiversity and prevent further increase in Ebola due to human and animal contact,” Bah stated.

According to Director of the Environmental Foundation for Africa, Tommy Garnett, the report was launched in Liberia last week and next week in Guinea, adding that it will help the three affected countries in their post-Ebola recovery.

The report, he stated, analyses bats response to fragmented, forested landscapes, indicating that in such conditions it is possible for several species such as bats, other animals and humans that are not in contact with each other, to come into contact.

He said the report summarises research conducted into the possible effects of forest fragmentation in increasing the risk of an outbreak of the Ebola disease in humans, adding that the report also assesses this in relation to knowledge of forest and land management in the Guinea forest, bat ecology and plans for post-Ebola economic recovery for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

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