President Bio kick-starts ‘5 million trees’planting exercise President Julius Maada Bio planting a

President Julius Maada Bio on Friday June 5, 2020 commenced a national tree planting exercise and officially launched the National Tree Planting Project to help minimize the impact of climate change.

In his statement at Mortomeh Community, Regent Village, the president said the project is aimed at planting 5 million trees in approximately 14,706 hectares of degraded lands and coastal areas across the country.

According to him, the project is expected to last for four years with the planting of trees to be done in five (5) phases and disclosed that phase one, which commences this year through April 2021, will see the planting of 1.2 million trees.

He added that phases 2 to 5 will start in May 2021 and end in June 2024 with 3.8 Million trees expected to be planted.

“The co-benefits from health, agriculture, employment, water conservation, to economic development, are too numerous to name in this brief statement. It will initially target 10,000 youths comprising at least 50 percent women,” he said.

President Bio opined that the national tree planting exercise will provide other ecosystems support functions such as water conservation, combating of soil erosion along hills and slopes and aid soil conservation in agricultural areas, as well as contributing to addressing several UN SDGs, the AU Agenda 2063, and Cluster 7 of our country’s Medium-Term National Development Plan.

He disclosed that the National Reforestation and Afforestation Project, which was included in the 2020 budget, would benefit the whole country, adding that it would be pursued along with Government’s commitment to creating jobs in rural communities.

“This project is critical for various reasons: It will increase forest cover, enhance the capacity of carbon sequestration and biodiversity, and help reduce the adverse impact of climate change on the country; it will prevent the displacement of populations caused by flooding, as the trees will curtail water from heavy downpours; it will reduce early and erratic rainfall patterns leading reduced flooding and wind throw hazards,” he added.

The president reiterated his campaign pledge to focus on the protection of the environment and the prevention of natural disasters in the country.

“We have taken proactive measures toward effective environmental governance, ecosystem conservation, the management of forest resources, and environmental education. We have established a stand-alone Ministry of the Environment and we are passing progressive legislation and policies to mitigate and manage environmental risks,” he said.

He also called for transparent and accountable national spread during the implementation of the programme and instructed the Minister of Environment to ensure that they strictly adhered to that.

Country Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Samuel Doe, said it was auspicious that Sierra Leone was marking the launch of the tree planting and afforestation project.

He noted that the UNDP was standing with the government of Sierra Leone to ensure the planting of trees to regenerate the planet and the environment in the country, adding that humans were obligated to sustain the environment.

Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency, Dr Bondi Gevao, stated that the ongoing climate-related impacts were reminders of the need to take responsibility to preserve forests and wildlife habitats. He noted that trees and forests played an essential role in mitigating the impacts of climate change and assured of his agency’s commitment to operationalizing the vision of the government’s agenda on protecting the environment

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