opinionBy Ayo Luk-Johnson
Deforestation is the act of chopping down trees and failing to replace them with another.
Such fallen trees are mostly used to build houses and firewood and charcoal collections. These trees can be also used for carving.
Going by the predictions supplied by local environmentalists on the effect of deforestation we are faced with the possibility of a severe water shortage and climate change.
Deforestation is the consequence of human economic activities. These activities show their ugly faces within the western area peninsular axis. The focus of concern is the horrible deforestation ongoing at Mount Aureol.
The 'brok ose' saga currently orchestrated by officials of the land and country-planning ministry along side with the police and youths has become a matter of concern.
While I was pursuing my higher education at Fourah Bay College the deforested areas during those years were thick forests. The streams were never dried.
Today what used to be the thick forest of Mount Aureol has become a thing of the past. In its place are mud brick houses in there hundreds housing thousands of our compatriots who have failed to get clearance from the authorities concern. By cutting down those trees and using there as their homes they do not even know the environmental hazards of their stewardship there Today these occupants are asked to vacate at the beginning of the rainy season.
Some other time would have been set aside for their eviction from the lands of Fourah Bay College.
The question is where do we draw the line between protecting the environment and the squatters on the lands of FBC?
On the side of the coin, what has the Ministry of Lands and Country Planning done to find housing accommodation to those evicted from the Mount Aureol axis?
Over to you Mr. Minister of Lands and Country Planning.
When will the commission on environment and forestry be formed?
Local environmentalists are confused that up to this time are no visible signs of a commission on environment and forestry. This seems to undermine president Tejan Kabbah's interest shown on conserving our environment. Whether it is a false interest or not, but we are taking him by his words.
People's hopes were further ignited when on April this year the president went to Lakka village amidst his busy schedule to officially open the CEFP's conference on the environment and forestry. The president, during that occasion reechoed the formation of the commission.
Also the expressed concern of the president on the destruction of the forest and the environment at the CEPF conference indicated that by this time our office would have been created for the commission as suggested by some local environmentalists is the transition procedure from the ministry of lands and country planning.
Before now the ministry had within its ambit forestry and the environment. Whether the minister in charge is au-fait with the holdup created by the officials who are to work out modalities for the transition process.
However the forum has before now made frantic efforts to get onto the minister to expedite such a process but could not because of his busy schedule which has prevented the forum from getting unto Dr. Boson Sesay.
Worst of all the chairman of the commission, Dr. Squire preferred to keep a tight lip on the whole matter instead of blasting for the government's for failing to fulfill their promise We believe it is timely for Dr. Squire to come out and tell the public through the press the present status of the commission.
The Minister, Dr. Bobson Sesay, may be preoccupied to talk sense into the heads of land grabbers at Mount Aureol and the environs but he is always refusing to speak to the forum. However the urgency for the commission to start work border on the continued deforestation presently going on in the western area peninsular.
A point the president Alhaji Tejan Kabbah reiterated when the declared open the CEPF workshop at the cotton club Lakka. All what it takes to kick start the work of the commission has be put in place by the office of the president which the commission will be answerable to.
We will want to know why the delay in forming the commission for environment and deforestation.
If that commission has been formed it would have been a machinery to lobby government make laws which go with penalties for those who are in the habit of chopping down trees.