Government Opens Floodgates to Deforestation
The Government of Sierra Leone is considered to have given the green light to timber exporters to continue rigorous logging exercises, especially in the rural areas following the lifting of the ban on the exportation of timber early October by President Koroma and the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
Concern has been raised that the lifting of the ban would lead to massive logging activities throughout the six months grace period stipulated in the agreement otherwise known as Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and the Forest Operators or timber exporters.
The lifting of the ban would lead to further exploitation of the forest cover of the country which report states has seriously dwindled from 100% as it was before to 4% this year. Sources intimated this press that government’s decision to lift the ban at this crucial time is a politically motivated step taken by President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma the flag bearer of the ruling APC party to see reason and lift the ban tentatively so that the stock piles of timber would be exported within the given period.
Conservation Society Sierra Leone (CSSL) has registered their dissatisfaction over the failure of government to include them and other civil society organizations in the agreement that gave rise to the MOU that led to the lifting of the ban. Executive Director of CSSL, Dr. Sama Mondeh informed the media at an urgent press conference last week that the decision to lift the ban was taken with limited consultations by the government. He said they would have advised government to prevail on the forest operators to start to implement their commitment in the MOU (reforestation) by planning the proposed 50 acres tree planting in affected areas.
Dr. Mondeh pointed out that the purpose to lift the ban was to permit the export of all timber harvested adding that this meant the timber / logs already harvested but it is being extrapolated to mean more timber harvesting for export.
He said CSSL has evidence that the floodgates to power saw operations have broken loose since the announcement of the lift. CSSL’s position is that the measure will cost the country more in terms of environmental damage than it will pay these forest operators.
CSSL has expressed the need for government to recommend them and other civil society organizations interested in conserving the land to assist in the monitoring of the operations of forest operators vis-à-vis their commitments in the MOU.
By Ilyasa Baa
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