The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) FD, and CCSL has organized a day symposium on the celebration of wild life week. The issues dealt with centered on Forestry and Wild Life Sectors in Sierra Leone and measures to address them.
The symposium brought together stake holders in the Forestry Division, Lands Ministry, Community Leaders and Civil Society Organizations at the British Council Auditorium Tower Hill in Freetown, to foster forestry contribution on poverty reduction and sustainable economic development.
John Lahai of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry expressed gratitude to the Government and development partners for their effort to protect vegetation and wild life by creating a sustainable forest which requires innovation in both the practice and management of forests for the rapid development of the Country. The Minister of Lands, Housing and Country Planning, Benjamin Davis on behalf of the Agriculture Minister, declared the symposium open and informed the forum about the viability of the land; and expressed the need for efficient management of the forest with adequate institutional structures put in place. The Minister highlighted some of the environmental problems facing the forest and wild life, which undermines development and biodiversity; maintaining that forests are national assets for eco tourism in poverty alleviation.
He highlighted the mandate of the Ministry in formulating policies for conservation of biodiversity and forest management which would ensure effective management of the forest for rapid growth in the Country.
Highlighting the challenges facing the forest, the Minister noted that farming, fuel, (coal burning) housing and shifting cultivation are some of the major problems; urging Sierra Leoneans to put the nation first. FAO Senior Forestry Officer, Salinas Fernando gave a brief overview of the National Forestry Program Facility (NFPF) which creates an innovative partnership among developing countries to support national forestry programs.
He pointed out that the overall objective of the facility is geared towards assisting Sierra Leone to develop and implement the NFPF to effectively address local needs and national priorities.
Fernando also said that the facility would strengthen stakeholders’ participation on land use, water, agriculture, finance mining and environmental education for the formulation and adoption of policies which would protect the forest and conserve wild life; in partnership with stakeholders and Line Ministries.
The FAO Forestry Officer also spoke about their financial contribution to the Forestry Department for a period of three years with the sum of USD 300,000 to organize workshops, sensitization and awareness raising programs, training, research studies, testing and validation of new approaches and tools for a developing a management system.
Sheku Mansaray, the Acting Director of Forestry gave an overview of the Forestry Division, governance and restructuring; adding that deforestation is a critical environmental problem. He noted that the forest is a catalyst for socio economic development in Sierra Leone and that the restructuring of the Forestry Division is in process; to address the numerous challenges facing the forest industry and conservation of wild life in the Country.
Sheku Mansaray highlighted the need to revamp community forestry assessment, commercialization of forest and restoration of the eco system and wild life management, and urged stakeholders to embark on tree planting exercise to sustain the environment
By Saidu Bah