Gola Forest upgraded to a national park
The Government of Sierra Leone wishes to inform the General Public and the International Community that on the 3rd December, 2011, H.E the President, Dr. Ernest Bai will officially declare the Gola Rainforest as a National Park.
Government has always recognized the Gola Rainforest as one of the most important areas of Primary Forest remaining in Sierra Leone and worthy of protection.
The significance of this forest arises from the fact that it has been identified as a “Biodiversity Hotspot” – of Global importance because of its rich variety of plants and animals, including very rare species.
Government is fully cognizant of the inter-dependence of human welfare with the conservation of natural resources. Development is a human requirement but must be done in a manner that does not impoverish the future. This requires dealing with economic, environmental and social policies in a mutually reinforcing way as encapsulated in the President’s Agenda for change.
Government has therefore wasted no time in developing policy instruments to address these concerns such as the new policies on Forestry and Wildlife, the creation of a National Biodiversity Strategy Action Plan which recommends the creation of a National Network of Protected Areas for both the terrestrial and wetland ecosystems across the country and the establishment of the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency.
Government has, as a result, made major achievements in the area of environmental conservation and protection. They include:
I. The elevation of the Gola Rainforest to a National park
II. Work on the elevation of the Western Area peninsular Forest Reserve, Loma Mountains and Kangari Hills Forest Reserve to National parks
III. Development of a verification system for sustainable forest management in Sierra Leone
IV. Proposals for the development of a National Protected Area Authority and the creation of a conservation Trust fund for the management of the protected areas in both the terrestrial and wetland ecosystems.
At Regional Level, Sierra Leone:
IV. Collaborated with neighbouring Liberia in creating a “Peace Park” that will unite and benefit the entire region.
V. Collaborated with seven West African countries namely, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Mail, Mauritania, Senegal, Niger to develop a sustainable integrated management of the Fouta Djallon river basins and successfully hosted the 5th Ministerial Conference on the Integrated Natural Resources Management Project of the Fouta Djallon Highlands from 18 – 11 of November, 2011 where the Minister of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security was voted Chairman of the Conference of Ministers for a two year period.
VI. Is working with the Mano River Union states, of Guinea, Liberia and Ivory Coast to develop strategies for trans-boundary forest management
VII. Participated in the development of a convergence plan for sustainable forest management.
Government therefore wishes all to know that it will not relent in its effort to honour its commitment of securing a sustainable environment for the citizens of Sierra Leone and to fulfill its international environmental obligations.
Signed: Edward M. Kargbo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
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