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What it takes to protect forests

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FAO calls for an improved partnership to protect Sierra Leone’s forest

Assistant FAO Representative-Programmes addressing partners during the International Day Forest event held in Freetown

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Wednesday, 21 March 2018 joined the rest of the world in commemoration of the International Day of Forests under the theme, “Forest and Sustainable Cities”.
The event brought together a number of stakeholders including, Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Development Partners, Private Sector, Civil Society and the United Nations Country Team.
During the event, FAO encouraged political actors and development partners to strengthen collaboration for the protection of the forest cover in Sierra Leone. The call was reechoed by the FAO Representative (ad interim), Dr. Housainou Taal. The event was organized by the Community Based Forestry project in FAO in partnership with the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security.
Dr. Taal stated that the challenge faced by the forestry sector cannot be solved by a single agency, but requires partnership and government commitment. “We need to act together so that the forest will not continue to deteriorate”, he emphasized.
He encouraged the next government to prioritize forest management and make it sustainable with effective community collaboration.
The Director Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Mr. William Bangura noted that Sierra Leone used to be better in terms of disaster prevention, but it is now among the most affected and among the most vulnerable countries to be stroke by large scale disaster. “We have close to sixty water catchment areas around the urban settlement but encroachment on the prohibited areas has gradually caused problem for us,” he lamented.
The chairman of the event, who is also the Assistant FAO Representative in charge of Programmes, Mr. Joseph Brima informed the gathering that the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 declared 21 March as the International Day of Forests.  He added that the day provides a platform for countries to raise awareness and take actions on issues related to forest conservation.
The event provided a platform for stakeholders in the forestry sector to discuss major issues responsible for deforestation in the country and also highlight the activities that are being done by various partners to address the problems.
The Natural Resource Management Officer in FAO, Dr. Samuel Mabikke highlighted the status of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) implementation in Sierra Leone, which lead to the piloting of the Community Based Forest Management project.
The Forestry Officer in charge of the Community Based Forest (CBF) Management project, Mr. Gbessay Momoh presented the key roles of FAO in the forestry sector in Sierra Leone, spanning from 1975, when the Organization provided technical and financial support to conduct the National Tree Inventory, in 1988, for the preparation of the Forestry Act and now providing support for sustainable forest management through the CBF project, which is piloted in four sites in Bo and Moyamba districts.
He added that FAO is also continuing to support the Government of Sierra Leone in the review of the Forest Act. He appealed to donors and other agencies to support the scaling-up of the CBF project nationwide.
Momoh also explained to participants the spectrum of CBF regime, it principles and keys to its effective implementation.
The celebration of the International Day of Forest was climaxed with a symbolic tree planting in front of the FAO Sierra Leone premise.
Keifa Jaward
Communications Consultant

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