His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio has launched the National Tree Planting Campaign that runs from August through to September to increase public awareness around deforestation and benefits of increased community involvement in establishing forests.
President Bio, in his keynote address at the Hockey Pitch on Wilberforce Barracks in Freetown, said the state of forestry in the country deserved collective attention and that his government was committed to implementing policies and practices that would support effective biodiversity management.
He noted that his government was very serious about protecting the country, people and the future, adding that despite the enormous economic challenges he inherited, his government was committed not only to improving the lives of Sierra Leoneans across the country but also to preserving the environment for the current and future generation.
“Let me reiterate that my Government would continue to be proactive by taking measures to prevent disasters and not just to react to disasters. One of the deliberate preventive actions we must continue to embark on is the traditional tree planting day which we do on the 5 June every year. But, having just one tree planting day in the year is too inadequate to be impactful. To address this inadequacy, my Government is today launching the National Tree Planting Campaign in the months of August through to September,” he said.
While acknowledging the efforts of the military in the tree planting exercise, President Bio noted that the campaign was to make tree planting not just a once-in-a -year pastime, but an everyday practice for government, district councils, local and traditional authorities and most importantly, individual families which would not only protect the environment but would also serve as a source of revenue generation.
“The value of trees could not only be as forest cover but also its potential to support wealth-creation. Therefore, I will encourage the growing of economic trees, like cashew, cocoa, etc., for this National Tree Planting Campaign to create wealth for women, men and youth and even our children who will be managers for the future. I will also encourage that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to set a target of the number of trees to be planted every year,” President Bio said.
Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Joseph Ndanema, said the situation of the forest was precarious because of a lot of human activities that were carried out on the environment such as mining, charcoal burning, and deforestation among many others. He said his ministry was aware that the spate of flooding, landslide and mudslide were all as a result of the rampant deforestation, which he added, had placed the country on an environmental time bomb. He encouraged everyone to join the tree planting exercise so as to preserve the environment.
“We can only be assured of peaceful moments, especially during the raining season when we accelerate the level of afforestation and reforestation. The spate of disasters is alarming but we can tackle that by planting more trees. Our team remains committed to operationalise the vision of the New Direction on food security and protect our environment, as together we can make this nation great again,” he ended.
In line with the United Nations convention on climate change, deforestation and desertification, including environmental protection for adaption and resilience to which Sierra Leone is a signatory, the National Tree Planting venture was officially adopted in Sierra Leone on 5 June 1984.