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Green Scenery raises red flag on lifting of ban on Timber Export and calls for New Direction to stop deforestation

“…we need a New Direction that will lead to re-afforestation and a stop deforestation”

By Ishmael Kindama Dumbuya

The government of Sierra Leone through the New Direction of President Maada Bio has temporarily lifted a ban on the export of Timber of the Country. The ban on timber activities including export out of the country was recently announced on 9th of April 2018 through an Executive Order number 2 and it was very much welcomed by environmentalists as “deforestation in Sierra Leone had taken alarming dimensions with an approximated 3% forest cover left as estimated by some experts”.

hundreds of heavy trucks ply the Tonkoh Limba Road on a daily basis to carry logs of Timber

In a release issued on the 27th June 2018, the Government had however decided to start a U-turn on timber issues and impose a temporary lifting of a ban despite strongly prioritizing issues of natural resources and the environment during the campaign period earlier this year. Green Scenery, a local nongovernmental organization focusing on natural resources and Community development and livelihood expressed concern on the decision of the Sierra Leone government to lift up the temporary ban on timber export.

In the release, the government declared that it will allow the shipment of 13,000 containers. According to Mr. Joseph Rahall, the Executive Director of Green Scenery, “the volume of wood stocked in the containers, each forty feet long and the stockpile situated at the Hastings Airfield is not only colossal in quantity, but despicably embarrassing for a country with now 3% forest cover to allow its forests to be butchered and sold off”.

Mr. Rahall is however concerned and presently leaving with the hesitation of past experiences from the past governments. “Knowing these procedures from the former government to evoke and revoke bans as log stocks accumulate and ready for export, Green Scenery calls on the new government to protect the environment by making the ban permanent” he said in a release issued after the lifting of the temporal ban on the export of timber.

According to the Director of Green Scenery “we urgently need a new direction that will lead to re-forestation and a stop to deforestation”. He said “while other countries protect their natural resources, logs have been persistently shipped from Sierra Leone over the past ten years and Sorius Samura’s documentary in 2011 on Sierra Leone Timber is a testament to this assertion”.

Rahall stressed that “a recent video shared on social media graphically documented stockpiles of logs in the Hastings Airfield axis raising public emotions on the environmental damage already caused by logging”.  He noted in his release that “put together, the approximately 13,000 containers to be exported, the 893 containers at the Quay awaiting shipment, the stockpile of logs at the Hastings Airfield, and the un-quantified logs exported in the past can be aptly referred to as ‘ecocide’ (ecological genocide)”.

Most of the species extracted largely come from Northern Sierra Leone where climatic conditions are of drier Savannah-like and by UN Convention to Combat Desertification definition, desert-like. Rahall is also worried that some of the species are not of copping nature and therefore have no chance to rejuvenate. “Except we take on exceptional measures, Sierra Leone and future generations stand to lose against the interest of logging companies and governments who are desperate to generate revenue by all means”, fears Joseph Rahall.

Mr. Joseph Rahall also reiterated that “in the government press release, the status of the logs to be shipped is not clear, whether confiscated or not and it is also not clear how much revenue this massive shipment will attract”. He maintained that the country is yet to be informed if the ban will be re-established. In that regard, “Green Scenery urges the government to clarify these concerns and to make permanent the ban on logging. Sierra Leone has lost so much of its natural endowments that the government must put measures in place to ensure they benefit future generations”.

 

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