August 24, 2018
The Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Dr. Nyabenyi Tipo, on Thursday, 16 August 2018 reaffirmed the commitment of the Organization to continue to support the Government of Sierra Leone to achieve its priorities.
Dr. Tipo made the commitment during the launching of a National Tree Planting event for 2018 at the Hockey Pitch, in the Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown. The event is in compliance with the United Nations Conventions on Climate Change, Deforestation and Desertification, including environment protection and resilience, to which Sierra Leone is a signatory.
The objectives of the National Tree Planting Campaign are to increase public awareness on deforestation, plant at least two hectares of forests in each district, contribute to the greenery and beauty of some key Government premises with specific reference to the Western Area and protect fragile ecosystems from degradation. The theme for this year’s tree planting exercise is: Plant tik for beteh you lif, which justifies the role of trees in support of life on the planet.
The FAO Representative stated that it was very encouraging to see that the country has stepped up campaigns on sustainable management of natural resources, and environmental protection, especially after the country has been through successive adversities, ranging from war, disease outbreak to floods and landslide.
She noted that forest is a source of livelihoods for many and that it is therefore of utmost importance to keep forest-dependent communities at the heart of afforestation and reforestation exercises. “Engaging them at every stage along the way, and offering them alternative livelihoods when the forest is declared as protected zone. This will ensure ownership, protection and sustainability of the forest,” she advised.
She encouraged all to desist from cutting trees, and if they have no other option but to cut it, they should plant two or three seedlings for every one tree they cut in their back yards, offices, or road sides.
In his keynote address, the President of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio, said that the state of the country’s forest deserves collective attention and action, and he registered his government’s commitment to implementing policies and practices that will support effective biodiversity management.
President Bio lamented that the large-scale mismanagement of the country’s forest resources in the past years have resulted in the denudation of vast acreage of land in the urban and rural areas. He therefore noted that having just a tree planting day in the year is too inadequate to be impactful.
“On the global level, my Government is committed to adhering to prescriptions of international compacts, like the Sustainable development Goals and the Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate change,” he pledged.
In recent years, specifically in 2015 and 2017, Sierra Leone has suffered from devastating floods and mudslides, which resulted to the loss of lives and properties worth millions of dollars. The causes of those disasters have largely been related to deforestation.
The tree planting activities are expected to be held throughout the month of August to September and simultaneously held in all districts in the country.