By Ibrahim Kabba Turay
Massive deforestation around the Western Rural Peninsular has led to flooding, mudslide, and loss of lives and property worth millions of Leones.
Over the years, Freetown has experienced multiple climate related disasters ranging from landslides, flooding, and extreme temperatures. These disasters are said to have been precipitated by human activities on the environment.
A research conducted by the Environmental Foundation for Africa (EFA) on the ‘Freetown Tree Town project’, pointed out several areas that have been destroyed by the community people in the quest for constructing dwelling houses.
“The research conducted by EFA identified over fifty communities that have been deforested by people for their selfish gains, leaving the community at high risk, says Charlie Vincent,” the Project Officer, Field Operation.
The Project Officer, in an interview said, said deforestation was exacerbating the impacts of climate change in some of the least resilient cities in Sierra Leone, making it much harder for those communities to cope with extreme weather events.
He said even the Guma reserve Dam has been encroached upon by land grabbers, an action, he said, was posing a significant negative impact on the processing of water for the city.
Chief Alimany Dumbuya at Angola Town,who has been in the community for over 40-years, said deforestation was not new phenomenon in the community as most of the big trees that were in the community have been cut down by the people.
The chief recalled the green, beautiful, climate friendly Angola community he knew years back.
“There were a lot of trees all over the community there, but as people became aware about the importance of owning a land, they cut down trees to acquire lands,” he said.
But it seems the Chief with his community people,was making efforts to mitigate deforestation in the community. The community has developed by-laws to help prevent people from cutting down trees.
The Chief has further warned his community people to stop cutting down trees, noting that anybody caught in the act of cutting trees will face the law.
Deforestation in Africa is occurring at about twice the world rate, with the continent as a whole losing about 4 million hectares every year. The loss of tree cover along West Africa’s in particular has increased, mostly because of agricultural land use, and urbanization
In 2010, Sierra Leone had 5.43Mha of tree cover, extending over 75% of its land area. In 2020, it lost 155kha of tree cover, equivalent to 79.9Mt of CO₂ of emissions, from 2001 to 2020, Sierra Leone lost 1.71Mha of tree cover, equivalent to a 30% decrease in tree cover since 2000, and 808Mt of CO₂e emissions.
In August 2017, more than a thousand people near Freetown died in a mudslide produced by floods due to heavy rains and unstable soil associated with excessive removal of vegetation.