July 28, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
Vice President Victor Bockarie Foh yesterday urged Sierra Leoneans, especially those in catchment areas to plant more trees in order to save the environment and humanity.
He was speaking at Mortheme Village, Regent/Grafton highway during the official launch of the National Tree Planting drive 2017 by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and its partners.
The vice president stated that the tree planting drive would be an ideal platform for the reduction of soil erosion, and protect the environment.
“We are all aware of the grave consequences of deforestation to the environment and the ways to prevent it. Protection of the environment is a key commitment of our government. This tree planting drive is one way to protect it,” he said.
While disclosing that the country commences it tree planting exercise in 1985, VP Foh called on the Agriculture Ministry, donors and other stakeholders to come onboard and ensure that people stop felling down trees.
Minister of Agriculture, Professor Monte Jones, emphasised that forestry was important for a healthy life and provides a wide range of economic and social benefits to the government and people.
“Forests protect soil structure by increasing the organic matter content and improve water quality by slowing down rains as it falls to the earth.
According to him, strengthening the forestry division of his ministry and developing a national consciousness for tree planting was key to sustaining the country’s economic growth.
He said the agricultural sector is fighting hard against climate change and global warming due to challenges arising from deforestation and water shortages in catchment areas in the country.
“The Western Area National Park is one of the national resources we have in Sierra Leone. We may recall that approximately 70% of the country was formerly covered by forest, but today a shocking less than 5% of original intact forest remains,” he noted.
Prof. Jones disclosed that the country currently has 48 forest reserves gazette with 15 if which under the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA) and 33 being managed by the Forestry Division of the ministry.
Also, Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Md. Nyabenyi Tipo said the world today is faced with unprecedented threats to natural forest cover and biodiversity, adding that the world is warmer than ever before due to climate change, with every living creature bearing the consequence.
“About 60 million indigenous and tribal people are almost wholly dependent on forests for livelihood. And almost 900 million people, mostly in developing countries, are engaged in the wood-energy sector on a part- or full-time basis,” she said.
She maintained that the tree planting event will contribute to the restoration of the forest cover in the country, thus promoting the use of renewable energy, mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration and storage.
Speaking at the event also was the President of Sierra Leone Timber Federation, Mandel Conteh, who welcomed the tree planting drive and encouraged Sierra Leoneans to plant more trees.
He said the national tree planting drive would help to create more jobs for youth across the country, especially those engaged in timber work.