Green Scenery, an indigenous Non-Governmental Agency concerned with the management of Sierra Leone’s natural resources and the protection of the environment has trained local farmers in the Gbongokama forest enclave of Nongobabulum Chiefdom Bonthe District on natural resource management and forest conservation.
The objective of the training is to train local farmers with the relevant skills and expertise as one of its numerous ways of promoting environmental awareness and its conservation against arbitrary abuse through direct intervention of informing the public, policy makers and the international community about the fate of Sierra Leone’s environment.
The training was designed to reduce the spate of deforestation within the Gbongokama forest by providing an increasing population in the forest enclave of Gangama, Taetima and Messima with sustainable livelihood options that serves as sources of income and capacity building on environmental protection.
The Executive Director of Green Scenery explained to farmers at a training session recently that the issue of environmental protection and management is a global concern, but Sierra Leone is yet to wake up to the fast growing interest in environmental science and technology.
The focal point in Green Scenery’s approach is the effective development and utilization of the intellectual and physical capabilities of local farmers through education, civic participation, public awareness and sensitization on the need to preserve and conserve our environment for future development.
The Executive Director Joseph Rahall also said that slash-and-burn agriculture has been blamed for the large-scale deforestation of Sierra Leone’s forests and continues to degrade the remaining forest. “Farming sites are also prone to erosion which leads to the impoverishment of biological diversity” he added.
The Executive Director further explained to local farmers about the loss of vegetative cover, deterioration in soil and water quality and increased soil erosion. Deforestation, siltation and displacement of human population have potential impact on the biological diversity of the country.
Participants of the training who were mostly farmers commended Green Scenery for the training and promised to implement the knowledge they have learnt for the protection of the environment and also by applying the new framing methods.
However all the forests are under assault as the population grows as communities are demanding more and more from their land. Joseph Rahall explained that the non hunting forest reserves that have already been identified as key biodiversity areas are still not protected as their status has not been updated.
The 29 potential rain forest reserves in the country fall within the lowland rain forest ecosystem and logging with permit has been allowed to occur. In recent times, the level of illegal logging activities has become unprecedented. An estimated 85 percent of the Sierra Leonean population is dependent on the use of fuel wood and charcoal for domestic heating and cooking.
As of January, 2010, the Government of Sierra Leone and other stakeholders are working to develop two draft policies (Forestry and Wildlife Conservation) to a broad-based consultative process that targets key public and private stakeholders at the national, regional and district levels for forestry and wildlife conservation.
Green Scenery had received an invaluable assistance and guidance from overseas bodies like The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the UK-based Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). Locally, Green Scenery has also worked with The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) and the SL Association of Non-Governmental Organizations, as well as the national Forum for Human Rights.