June 6, 2019 – Freetown
Continuing in the spirit of World Environment Day, Freetown City Council joined the fight for better environmental management in Freetown by officially launching its Tree Planting Initiative, through a symbolic tree planting exercise at Victoria Park (Freetown Amusement Park) and at Henry Fergusson Municipal School, Kennedy Street.
In attendance were numerous partners that already champion the conservation cause in Freetown, including the Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, CRS, Tacugama, and Ministry of Water Resources.
Addressing the gathering, the Executive Chairman of the Environment Protection Agency, Dr Foday Jaward, explained, “We depend on the environment and the environment depends on us. Our actions and inactions have resulted in deteriorating the environment in Freetown. We have to give back to the environment. You cut trees to build a house, plant others to replace them. Environmental issues should not be treated in isolation but they should be integrated in every aspect of our development.”
Environmental management is a priority in Council’s #TransformFreetown and the Council aims to increase vegetation cover by 50% over the next four years. The launch is the beginning of a process to plant 2000 trees over the next week. It will be followed by the planting of another 10,000 trees by the end of the June in hard-to-reach areas with help from CRS.
Speaking at the launch, Mayor Aki-Sawyerr explained, “These are not gimmicks. These are investments in our future and we need to take them seriously. We need the trees because we need them to live. This is not just from the perspective of breathing but also from the perspective of resilience against environmental disasters, the perspective of beautification and the perspective of health and sanitation. So the trees are really practical.”
The theme for this year’s World Environment Day, No Air Pollution, resonates strongly with Freetown City Council as the demand for housing in Freetown is continually putting pressure on Freetown’s forests and increasingly undermining the quality of air in the city.
Speaking to the students of Henry Fergusson School, Freetown City Council’s Chief Administrator, Festus B Kallay, advised, “The environment is not about the future but it is about today. It is about the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. We are here today to send a message to you that we all have a part to play in looking after the environment.”
The official launch of the Tree Planting Initiative was supported by CRS, Trees for Prosperity, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Think Africa Initiative, all of whom were represented in the planting of trees. Councillors, core Council staff, the chair lady of Sewa Grounds market, teachers and students also planted trees.
In his statement at the launch, CRS Country Representative, Paul Emes, shared, “CRS has been responding to disasters and we have been heavily involved in disaster-reduction initiatives in Freetown. I’ve come to respect and value the passion and commitment of Freetown City Council and other partners to the sustainable future of the city and the environment on which we all depend. For the sake of our children, let’s be kind to the environment; let’s put something back; let’s plant trees so that the next generation will benefit from them.”
To enable sustainability, the Council handed over tools to the park management and school administration that they should use to take care of the trees planted at the end of the planting exercise.