Gola Rainforest: a forest to celebrate with pride  

By Abdul Kaprr Dumbuya

The International Day of Forests is celebrated on March 21st every year to raise public awareness on the importance of protecting forests and their link to human existence. On that Day, the relevance of conserving all types of forests, and trees outside forests is re-emphasized for the benefit of current and future generations. Each year, more than 13 million hectares (32 million acres) of forests are lost globally, an area roughly the size of England. The increased spate of deforestation and the attendant climate change effects has reinforced the need to redouble global efforts for more actions to protect the forests.

On March 21st, 2024, Sierra Leone joined the world in celebrating the Day in Joru, one of the forest edge communities of Gola Rainforest National Park in Kenema district, east of the country. The event was organised by Gola Rainforest Conservation LG (GRC-LG) and graced by the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Giwoh Abdulai, and accompanied by the leaderships of Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) and the National Protected Area Authority. Also present were the Paramount Chiefs of the seven Gola chiefdoms, representatives of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), relevant ministries, departments and agencies and the Chairman – Parliamentary Oversight Committee on the Environment, among others.

During the event, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change revealed that the process of reviewing the forestry laws was ongoing, so as to enable government to protect the country’s forests better. To do that, he said the Ministry would soon embark on consultative meetings across the country to gauge the views of communities on the best ways to manage the forests “in this era of climate change”. The outcome of the consultations would be included into the climate legislation, he noted.

The Minister asserted that, “Gola Rainforest National Park is a success story in West Africa and the world. It is contributing hugely to the fight against climate change, and we will ensure that communities around Gola forest benefit from the services it is providing to the world.” As GRC – LG currently supports forest edge communities in Gola with development projects, the Minister assured all that such support would continue even for future generations once the forest remains protected.  He called on all Sierra Leoneans to plant at least one tree and protect it through to maturity for the benefit of all.

The Executive Director of CSSL, Dr. Sheku Kamara reminded all present about the efforts invested into the protection of Gola Rainforest by CSSL and partners. He said, CSSL and RSPB are the BirdLife partners in Sierra Leone and the UK respectively, and are very important partners of the government of Sierra Leone that ensured the protection and conservation of Gola Rainforest National Park in Sierra Leone. He encouraged all present to continue to work together to increase the gains so far achieved in the protection of the Park.

The celebration of the Day was preceded by community visits by the Minister and entourage around forest edge communities. The Minister informed communities (Belebu in Tunkia chiefdom and Lalehun in Gaura chiefdom) that, he was keen to have first-hand information about the benefits they are deriving from Gola. He also said he wanted to know what the government could do better to improve the lives of communities around the forest. The visiting team also walked through the Park to see the highest viewpoint and one of the colonies of one of the highly treasured birds – the Picathartes.

CSSL Newsletter 1-2024

Earlier this month the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, and entourage, together with the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), visited our beloved Gola

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