Officials say the campaigned, launched on Thursday, is meant to increase public awareness around deforestation while seeking to increase communities’ involvement in establishing forests.
President Julius Maada Bio presided over the launch of the month-long campaign which he said is intended to make tree planting an everyday affair for government, district councils, local and traditional authorities, as well as individual families.
The president said this initiative will not only serve to protect the environment, but also as source of revenue generation.
President Bio said the state of the forest of the country called for a collective attention, noting that his government was committed to implementing policies and practices that would support effective
He added that in spite of the urgent need to improve the lives of the people, his government was also committed to preserving the environment for the future generation, stressing that this is in line with the government’s objective of preventing disasters, rather than reacting to them.
The launching of the tree planting exercise comes two days after Sierra Leone commemorated one of the worst natural disasters to have struck it in its history. On Tuesday the country, through an
interfaith memorial prayer session, remembered the over 1000 compatriots who lost their lives on August 14, 2017, when part of a mountain erupted and buried hundreds of houses.
That incident in the west end of Freetown happened at the same time as heavy flood hit the capital city. As part of the commemoration, President Bio announced a ban on economic activities and for human dwelling in the area which is considered disaster prone.
The president said at Thursday launch of the tree planting exercise that one of the deliberate preventive actions of environmental disaster like that had been through embarking on the United
Nations-declared traditional tree planting day, otherwise known as World Environmental Day, which falls on June 5 every year.
He said just one day tree planting day was not enough, hence the national tree planting day which will run from August to September every year.
“The value of trees could not only be as forest cover but also its potential to support wealth creation,” President Bio said at the occasion held in the Wilberforce Military Barracks located in the west end of the capital, Freetown.
He explained that the idea was also to encourage people to grow economic tress like cashew and cocoa to create wealth. He also urged the Ministry of Agriculture to consider setting a target of the number of trees to be planted every year.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Joseph Ndanema, described the state of the country’s forest as “precarious” and blamed it on human activities that include mining, charcoal burning, and deforestation.
He said these activities were responsible for the spat of landslide and mudslide that have occurred in the country recently. The minister noted that this has placed Sierra Leone on an environmental time bomb, which makes it incumbent on every Sierra Leone to participate in the national tree planting campaign.
“We can only be assured of peaceful moments, especially during the rainy season, when we accelerate the level of afforestation and reforestation,” he said. “The spate of disasters is alarming but we can tackle that by planting more trees,” he added.