17 July 2006

Sierra Leone: Deforestation- is It Intentional?


Freetown — If you are to take a careful look at our beautiful range of hills overlooking our city that were once green and natural, you will undoubtedly come to terms with the fact that the rate at which we are loosing our forests to deforestation has definitely reached, if not even more than, an alarming rate.

Let's try to explore some of the factors that might have been responsible for the shortage and coloration of man's most valuable and life supporting resource, water. It is believed deforestation has been paramount amongst the factors responsible for such environmental degradation which eventually affects the resource base of water system.

If assertions about deforestation, as mentioned above are correct, then I am tempted to ask whether we are so insensitive to have deforested our beloved country, deliberately though, and have taking lesser regards to whatever repercussions that might follow. It is indeed true that some people are with the paucity of belief that we survive because of plants around us as they give out the oxygen that we breathe. The reverse makes it a cycle and a relationship too. We give out carbon dioxide that plants take in and it revolves like that for life on earth.

It is understandable also that there are situations wherein it is necessary to hew a tree for the safety and convenience of community dwellers but I'll suggest that if a proper planning is taken within our local settings we would not allow a tree to grow so big near our dwelling houses to the extent of posing a threat on our lives. Nobody says one should not plant a tree nearby one's house, but we should not allow it grow so enormous that one can't afford to trim it.

Proper planning, it would seem, has been our major weakness and there is a saying which holds: "If you fail to plan then you're planning to fail. As Sierra Leoneans, are we ready to fail? No! I just hope so.

Therefore, if we have been turning blind eyes to the dangers of deforestation it's high time we took very seriously, the message of the Minister of Lands, Housing, Country Planning and the Environment, Dr. Bobson Sesay. He once said and encouraged us to be planting trees.

Most people I believe are becoming frustrated over the low rainfalls in Freetown while those in the provinces are enjoying the abundance of it. It would rain to water their plantations, but that should not baffle us because massive rainfalls are due to forestation. We have been embarking on the cutting down of trees to make homes for the ever growing number of people in the city and so we could not get rains in abundance.

Now that deforestation problems are imminent and the shortage of rainfall has affected the supply of Guma Valley pipe borne water, I would advise that we engage ourselves in an intensive campaign of planting trees.

Let's teach our children the values of trees and their benefits to mankind.

The latter is more important because our children will be taking after us and if we set the pace now then they will be in the better position to reverse this ugly situation. We have forgetfully, or in a more concrete term, deliberately caused ourselves the problem of deforestation.

The ministry on the other hand, if I may suggest, should impose a more punitive measure if at all the existing ones are a bit lenient against defaulters.

This is because it has now become apparent that deforestation is tantamount to slow killing. It is perceived, though, that some people, if not most, are adamant in adhering to the realities of life. Such people, if I were to decide, should be treated heavy-handedly.

Sierra Leoneans, it's high time we changed our attitudes towards ourselves and our country for it's only then we will enjoy the fullest of the riches we were blessed with. This is a responsibility for one and all.

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