The World Environment Day was declared in 1972 by the United Nations, to make the need for a healthier Environment in our world an utmost priority.

This year’s celebration was staged in Sweden and replicated across the world with the theme #OnlyOneEarth.

The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) PAPFor project with funds from the European Union joined the world over to commemorate the day in one of the projects operational communities of Bayama in the Small Bo chiefdom, Kenema district.

The senior town chief of Kamboma section in the Small Bo chiefdom represented the Paramount chief PC Dafie Banya. In his welcoming address he said it is with great joy that the community is observing the day, because they have consented to work with the government of Sierra Leone and partners in protecting the Kambui Hills reserve and therefore the day means a lot to them.

Chief Bockarie Lansana said the CSSL as a conservation entity has always considered the people of the communities as part of the implementation and has always consulted them on matters relating to the protection of the Kambui Hills reserve. He said that the community is happy to know that CSSL PAPFor is planning a long term relationship with the community. The tourism lodge which is constructed in the community is a great symbol for this.  Chief Lansana expressed joy that the community people are part of the celebration.

I am happy that the community members can hear from learned people that there is a generation after us who also need this forest for their livelihood, therefore we should take action by joining the government and its partners to learn how to protect it.

Chief Bockarie Lansana

The environmental education coordinator of the PAPFor project, Victor Fabbah, mentioned the PAPFor project considered environmental education an integral part of the implementation and therefore joined the world to spread the message to communities on how important it is to protect the environment. He said this year’s celebration will be climaxed with the planting of trees in the deforested areas of the Bayama community by the school pupils who are also part of the CSSL schools nature club, to demonstrate to them how important it is to plant trees in our environment. ‘’It is the pleasure of the CSSL PAPFor project to see the school going children who will take up leadership of their communities in future to inculcate the habit of love for nature and to learn to plant trees instead of cutting them down.”

The regional manager of the Environmental protection Agency (EPA), Abdul Bah, when talking on the theme said it is no mistake that the United Nations choose the theme “Only One Earth”, but a deliberate attempt to bring to the conscience of people how important it is to protect the Earth because there is no other.

Bah emphasized if the earth is not protected, lives are also not protected and therefore people in the communities should think about the indiscriminate destruction of the forest for charcoal burning and farming by themselves as something that is regrettable. “When the wind comes, it will not have a breaker and so it will destroy your houses and you will face misery before the government and donors intervene.”

The keynote speaker, Julius Sama, who is also the district forest officer of the Ministry of Environment when representing  the resident minister east explained this year’s world environment day is symbolic as it marks the 50th anniversary of the declaration.

Julius Sama said the UN envisioned that a day will come when climate change will be a threat to human existence because of the increase in the population of the world and the scramble for the natural resources, and so they set the day aside to reflect and engage duty bearers, policy makers and communities to have a rethink and consider replacing lost natural resources.

The policy of "cut one - plant one" should be adopted by all because the world’s population now depends on the few standing trees and so if tree planting becomes a norm for all, it will save the future generation from catastrophes that are sending in danger signs. Let communities adopt tree planting, after harvesting rice from the farms, and also practice swamp rice cultivation, it is more profitable and it will reduce deforestation.

Julius Sama, District Forest Officer of the Ministry of Environment

The vote of thanks was delivered by a pupil of the Integrated Community primary school Bayama Bockarie Lansana who pledged to watch over the seedlings: “As a leader in my school, I will liaise with the teachers to ensure the seedlings planted today are monitored and well taking care of.”

The planting of 200 seedlings of different varieties supplied by the Forestry department in Kenema by dignitaries and community people present, climaxed the ceremony.