The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, in collaboration with the West African Mangrove Initiative project (WAMI), commenced deliberation on the formulation of a Mangrove conservation policy for Sierra Leone at the Youyi Building in Freetown yesterday.
The mangrove conservation policy, which has been formulated in six African Countries through WAMI, has prepared a national consultative preliminary report on mangroves with in-depth analysis on mangrove conservation and development in Sierra Leone.
Conakry Daouda Ndiaye, a regional mangrove specialist drawn from Guinea, is helping to provide stakeholders with funds and technical expertise to the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and the Ministry of Marine Resources to identify problems and possible solutions for the conservation of Mangrove swamps with sustainable management in the coastal areas of Sierra Leone.
The forum was chaired by Sheku Mansaray, the Director of Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture. Mr. Mansaray also presented the report to stakeholders on the problem analysis in Mangrove Development, and welcomed the initiative on behalf of Government and encouraged stakeholders to participate with meaningful inputs that will be necessary for the policy, noting that this is the first time Sierra Leone is formulating a policy on the conservation of mangrove swamps though it is in abundance.
Mr. Mansaray called on stakeholders to critically look and find appropriate solutions to the problems affecting the countries Eco System, as there is no policy in Sierra Leone about wetland management and its conservation. He maintained that serious pressure is being posed on Mangroves, such as the cutting down of mangrove trees for fire wood and coal burning, and the depletion of species around wet swamps, particularly oysters, newts and other species.
He also catalogued some of the challenges in the formulation of the policy which include: Methodologies of conserving mangroves, classification, land tenure system, capacity building, research, and institutional analysis. Mr. Mansaray also spoke about the bio-physical uniqueness of mangrove swamps in a salty environment, adding that there are over ten rivers in Sierra Leone and most of them flow down to the mangrove swamps and it has been largely used for the production of salt in most cases.
In his presentation, Guinean representative Conakry Daouda Ndiaye spoke about the Mangrove Initiative Project, saying it has been successful in other countries with solar salt production that has generated sustainable income for many families living along the coast and it also helped to reduce pressure on mangrove swamps.
Stakeholders at the forum highlighted some of their problems in the formulation of the policy to conserve mangrove swamps and its development along the coast, noting that institutions lack security, finance, research, and production. Additionally, socio-economic challenges and increased land reclamation by developers, and insufficient land for farming and the indiscriminate use of mangrove swamps coupled with the exploitation of the coastal area were areas of concern.
Stakeholders unanimously submitted recommendations on the way forward with inputs from Mr. H.R.S. Mohamed (WAMI), Focal Point officer in Sierra Leone Mrs. Kate Garnett, and Dr. Mamadou Sow, which climaxed the consultative formulation of a mangrove conservation policy
By Saidu Bah