At the launching ceremony of the Gola Forest programme yesterday at the British Council auditorium in Freetown, President Ernest Bai-Koroma said, “we are going to ensure that the necessary legislation is passed in protecting the Gola forest…and also makes it a national park.”
President Koroma said, “our environment is disappearing…and we have started feeling the effect.” He explained that if global warming related issues were not addressed, “it would be the source of the next conflict.”
According to statistics, “13 million hectares of forest area annually disappear. We lose every second a forest area equivalent the size of a football field,” said the president. He pointed out that, “what we have as a forest area is fewer than 5%. It is within this 5% that we have the Gola forest.”
As a government, President Koroma said, “we would assure the commitment and sustainability of the project.”
Community representative, Paramount Chief Vandi Magona VII said the forest was a blessing to the country, and called on government to stop all practices that affect the biodiversity of the forest. Dr Sama Banya stated that unlike other projects in the past which failed because packages were being sent to the beneficiaries, “this project is one with a difference as the people are directly involved”. He noted that, “this is an opportunity to address the challenges that loom over our heads”. The RSPB representative, Alistair Gammell, disclosed that Gola forest had 14 globally threatened birds and animals that were only in existence in the forest. He noted that, “the Gola forest is the remnant of a forest that stretches to Ghana,” adding that with the needed support, “the Gola forest will become the envy of the world”.