The National Protected Area Authority (NPAA), Mano River Union (MRU) and Welthungerhilfe (WHH) have celebrated World Environment Day on Saturday 5th June 2021.
The celebration was held under the Mano River Union Ecosystems Conservation and International Water Resources Project ( SLE 1077) implemented by WHH with funding from the Global Environment Fund (GEF) and International Union on Conservation of Nature (IUCN) through NPAA. This year’s theme is “Ecosystems Restoration”
Mustapha Sheriff, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of WHH stated that the United Nations had set aside this Day in respect of preservation of the environment.
He went on to state that the celebration is to educate and create awareness in local communities around the world about the urgent need to take good care of our environment and protect the living things within it.
“We have to plant trees around communities within the Gola Forest which is a natural forest spanning an expanse within the Mano River basin,” Sheriff said.
He stressed that the essence of the project is to divert the attention of the locals from depleting the forest cover by engaging them in other meaningful agricultural activities that would generate income.
Speaking at the occasion held at Njabama village in Malema Chiefdom, Kailahun District, Musa Kabba, Junior Technical Assistant Consultant of the Project, said that theUnited Nations designated Day is very significant to all human beings and communities across the world.
“Communities across the world are also celebrating this Day simultaneously to create global awareness about the requirements of human beings as a collective in conserving the environment,” Kabba said.
He further maintained that we as humans have not taken the necessary actions to prevent the continued environmental degradation in our communities; noting that the best practices in preserving the environment must be part of us as a continual process.
“The environment is part of us, and we are also part of the environment so we must all do our best to protect this valuable asset,” Musa Kabba stated.
The forest ecosystem he noted is very important as it provides shade, natural protection from adverse wind and other weather condition. Hence the need to preserve it.
“Every three seconds, the world loses a forest portion equivalent to a football pitch and if we are losing 20 times of that per day, it is very significant. So, protecting our ecosystem is in our interest and that of our children and generations unborn,”Kabba disclosed; adding that it is our responsibility to protect and change our attitude towards the environment.
Chief Gina Kanneh of Njabama Community in his statement appreciated the efforts of Welthungerhilfe and partners for providing the necessary support in ensuring that the restoration of the degraded lands around the Gola forest.
“This support is beneficial to us as it helps to restore degraded lands in our communities,” the Chief of Njabama said.
Frederick Mustapha Tamu, WHH Field Officer of SLE 1077 expressed that the celebration is timely in terms of increasing awareness in local farmers about the need to protect the environment especially the forest cover around their communities.
He disclosed that the project targets 1,500 farmers in seven chiefdoms including Malema, Nomo, Koya, TunkiaGaura, Barri and Makpele in the Kenema, Kailahun and Pujehun districts.
He informed that a total of 80 farmer participants were invited to grace the occasion.
“Preservation of the forest ecosystem is very important for human survival. Today we are here to educate and sensitise our people to enhance their level of awareness about the environment and the activities that can be harmful to its survival,” Tamu stated.
The celebration was climaxed by planting of trees in depleted areas within the Njabama Community by officials of WHH, MRU Project Junior technical consultant, chiefs and community members aimed at further encouraging people to focus on afforestation and alternative means of survival without degrading the forest cover.
In 1972, the United Nations General Assembly designated 5th June as World Environment Day to raise awareness on the numerous challenges faced such as pollution, wildlife trade, sustainable consumption, food insecurity and climate change among others.