From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Conservation of the Sierra Leonean Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve (WAPFoR) & its Watershed “Wata en Forest na Life”
Mar 18, 2010, 17:02

Conservation of the Sierra Leonean Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve (WAPFoR) & its Watershed

“Wata en Forest na Life”


Conservation of the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserve (WAPFoR) and its Watershed Project (Wata en Forest na Life)

Welthungerhilfe, formerly known as German Agro Action, informs the general public that it has received funding from the European Union (EU) to implement the “Conservation of the Western Area Peninsula Forest Reserves (WAPFoR) and its watershed” project. The five (5) year project started in March, 2009 and has a total budget of EURO 3.1 million (approx. 4.3 million USD).

The extent of the WAPFoR has been considerably shrinking due to illegal logging, charcoal burning and fuelwood collection, land grabbing, illegal construction, mining and other unsustainable land use practices (e.g. shifting cultivation), during the last decades. The continued deforestation is not only a threat to development of the tourism sector along the Western Peninsula, but also puts a serious risk to the bare survival of many people.

The WAPFoR project very closely relates to the sustainable water supply to Freetown and the entire Western Peninsula, with an estimated population of close to 1.5 million people. As such, there is a clear link to the UN’s peace building agenda in Sierra Leone (UNDP/GEF contributes USD 150,000), since the successful implementation of this project will have a positive impact on sustaining peace, stability and security on the Western Peninsula and within the entire country.

In its strife to promote more sustainable land use practices, the WAPFoR project closely cooperates with two other EU funded projects, implemented by CONCERN Worldwide and COOPI, which promote urban and sub-urban agriculture on the Western Peninsula.

In order to conserve the WAPFoR for present and future generations, the project will conduct a new demarcation of the Forest Reserve, based on which zonal management plans are to be developed. It will be pivotal and indispensable that the Government of Sierra Leone (GoSL) puts successively measures in place that will be suitable to restrict further encroachments into the demarcated forest area, in order to sustain the forest, water and other natural resources for current and future generations. In this context, adequate attention will be given to tenure issues, in order to prevent further encroachment of settlements into the pristine forest.

Furthermore, to be successful, the project aims to closely cooperate with local communities and the Western Rural District Councils as to ensure that they will directly benefit from the project. This will also include the stimulation of private business development and investments in ecotourism, which will contribute to sustain the unique beauty of the area, while developing employment opportunities in the tourism sector.

Finally, the WAPFR project will pilot new pro-poor financing mechanisms that will also serve forest conservation, such as attracting investors to invest in Reduction of Emissions from Deforestation and Desertification (REDD) programmes, which is in accordance with the list of Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs), which the GoSL recently communicated to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) and was annexed to the Copenhagen Accord on Climate Change from 18th December 2009.

In order to achieve all of the above, the WAPFoR project closely associates with the Forestry Division within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Food Security (MAFFS) and the Surveys and Lands Division and the Country Planning Division within the Ministry of Land, Country Planning & Environment (MLCPE). The project will further cooperate with the Sierra Leone Environmental Protection Agency (SLEPA), which the EU assists with a separate funding of EURO 1.0 million. Other key government stakeholders of the WAPFoR project are the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources (MEWR) and the Office of National Security (ONS). It goes without saying that the project will also closely cooperate with the Guma Valley Water Company (GVWC). The Environmental Forum for Action (ENFORAC) is the local implementing partner of the project.

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