The environment in Sierra Leone is seriously threatened by extraction, deforestation and land degradation as a result of ineffective policies and enforcement, the cutting down of trees for charcoal burning and farming – activities that are proving very devastating to sustainable livelihoods.
The environment provides much needed human and infrastructural development, however little has been done to protect the land in Sierra Leone. Recent fire disasters in the country have not only destroyed houses and properties, but have stretched out to the forests.
The Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve was declared so in 1916. The reserve, which is also Freetown’s water supply, is currently threatened by deforestation due to settlements at both ends of the economic spectrum.
Shanty settlements of people in Freetown are spreading into the reserve and piling pressure on the ecosystem. Farming in the hinterland along major towns and villages is also posing serious threats. The Ministry of Lands and Country Planning is working with development partners like the United Nations Development Program, Conservative Society, Green scenery, Environmental Foundation for Africa and the Tiwai Island Sanctuary project in the Pujehun District.
A release from EFA states that Environmental Foundation Sierra Leone office has a mission to rehabilitate Sierra Leone’s severely degraded environment as a priority and to work closely with governmental agencies and other local and international partners to plan, design and implement sustainable schemes of land reclamation and regeneration for agriculture, forestry and other uses.
Environmental Foundation for Africa recognizes the fact that the environment must be restored and protected so that development, peace and security and healthy populations can coexist.
EFA also raises environmental awareness among key stakeholders and builds the capacity of decision makers and resource users to incorporate environmental management into their priorities and actions. EFA aims at raising awareness campaigns restore degraded lands and conserve pristine forests, minimize the impact of civil war on the environment and its inhabitants, and equip people with sustainable livelihood skills such as agro forestry.
EFA also works closely with the landowners and local communities to negotiate which crops should be planted. In addition to rehabilitating the land in surrounding former camps, the nurseries are great benefits to the local communities. Using the experience gained through EFA’s training in managing the tree nurseries, local communities are now successfully producing a larger volume and variety of local foods and cash crops in an environmentally sustainable manner, improving their own income and living conditions. The organization coordinates a participatory analysis of social, environmental and economic variables related to large scale commercial rutile and bauxite mining activities in the Moyamba and Bonthe Districts of southwest Sierra Leone. EFA works through the Environmental Forum for Action (ENFORAC) at the national policy level in Sierra Leone.