The Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security (MAFFS) has ended a one day Regional Consultative workshop with 60 key stakeholders from Kenema, Kono and Kailahun Districts on the amendment of the Forestry and Wildlife legislations.
The Chairman of the programme Mohamed Gibril Kamara said the workshop is being held to make amendment to the Forestry and Wildlife Acts. These Acts are geared toward the conservation of the biodiversity, in plant and animal species. The preparation of the two Acts is an indication of the importance government attaches to the protection of our natural resources. Adding the sustainable management of these resources will bring considerable income and employment to the country and thereby raise the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of our country.
It can also improve the livelihood of the people in the Forestry edge community, by so doing it can help to combat global warming.
He admonished participants to share the knowledge gained with their colleagues who are not privileged to be there. He thanked the organizers and sponsors of the workshop for their positive steps in saving the nation.
In his statement the Acting Director of Forestry Mr. A.A.F.Conteh said the policy is not for an individual that is why all are called together to make input in the interest of all.
He also said all are in to listen to the drafted copies being developed by the consultant so that what is left out or to be added must be addressed. Adding that the law will bite whosoever contravenes the law relating to forestry and wildlife. “If we reserve our forest, tourists will come, thereby bringing development to our communities.
Speaking on behalf of Paramount Chief Representatives in Parliament PC Alhaji S.C.N. Konnoh Bundor11 of Gorama Kono Chiefdom Kono District thanked the organizers for considering the Paramount Chiefs in the meeting. He said any legislation that is trying to minimize the wrong use of the forest and its wildlife in their communities is a welcome idea. He assured all that they will do everything possible to uphold the laws.
In his keynote address the Resident Minister East William Juana Smith applauded the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security for the inclusive and participatory approach they have developed and followed in formulating policies for the nation.
He said when the view of many people forms the basis of decision making in any society on matters regarding their collective interest, a sense of ownership will surely develop, leading to jealous protection of the outcome of the decision.
Mr. Smith said Sierra Leone is poor because of the attitude of its people adding that Sierra Leone is endowed with a wide range of natural resources, including a rich deposit of mineral resources, a variety of vegetables and water resources. In spite of the abundant resources however, people owning them remain, poor and destitute.
He stated that the Government of Sierra Leone led by His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has the improvement of the livelihood of the people high on his priority list and is therefore determined to turn the situation round.
He told his audience that the Acts and workshop will be meaningless if they did not put forest guards in place to protect the forest, and he therefore appealed to organizers to put modalities in place to resuscitate the forest guards at Chiefdom levels.
It will be disastrous if the stakeholders did not put modalities in place to control and protect the forest at all levels. William Juana Smith said over the years, Sierra Leoneans have lost the culture of respect for the rule of law, lost the attitude to respect and care for public property and have therefore shunned their responsibility to ensure the proper use of these public natural resources.
By Saffa Moriba