By Amin Kef Sesay
If we don’t protect nature – it will retaliate and deprive us of her grace and beauty.
The fresh air we breathe and the clean water we drink comes from nature. Nature is the bread basket for communities all over the world. It has been a source for finding cures to some of the world’s most complex diseases. Yet we fail to acknowledge its importance. As a result of our damaging activities, there exists a massive imbalance in our ecosystems. The world will become inhabitable if we continue to degrade our environment at such an alarming rate.
World Environment Day is celebrated on 5th June every year to raise awareness about global warming and wildlife crimes. Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary supports community-based conservation projects to protect the environment and its wildlife primarily through outreach, alternative livelihood and reforestation initiatives.
Communities are encouraged to establish tree nurseries with the objective of planting native tree and fruit species that are beneficial to both animals and humans. For instance, Tacugama is currently working with five communities in Moyamba District to finish connecting fragmented patches of forest along a 3km stretch thus establishing Sierra Leone’s first wildlife corridor.
With the help of the communities, Tacugama has planted over 60,000 trees to establish the corridor and encourage human/wildlife co-existence. Moreover, Tacugama has supported seven communities along the Western Area Peninsula National Park (WAPNP) to establish tree nurseries. The communities are using recycled water sachets to nurse tree seedlings which will then be planted in close proximity to the respective communities. As a result, they’re practicing proper waste management while committing themselves to forest protection and habitat restoration projects.
Deforestation is one of the factors contributing to climate change in Sierra Leone. Entire patches of forests are cleared by land grabbers who often have no knowledge of their actions on the environment and wildlife. Due to deforestation, Sierra Leone can no longer boast of 70% of forest coverage. Nevertheless, we can still accomplish a great deal by simply engaging communities and planting trees.
Schools should also endeavor to set aside spaces for nursing seedlings to fuel reforestation exercises within and outside their school premises. This would instill a sense of commitment in caring for the environment as they are our future leaders. Some of our essential natural resources, such as clean water, are also threatened due to deforestation in urban areas and rural communities.
Trees have important water catchment formation and protection functions. The deep root systems of trees stabilize the banks of catchments, protecting against erosion while also providing habitat for wildlife. Deforestation and the ensuing disappearance of water catchments will not only threaten food security, but will further restrict the movements of animals. Over 200 zoonotic diseases (ranging from Ebola to COVID-19) are as a result of increased exposure to wildlife. Transmission occurs when an animal infected with bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi comes into contact with humans. This trend is predicted to rise in the future if we neglect and or tamper with nature.
Over one million species are said to be in danger across the world. Many species are on the verge of extinction and climate change continues to increase its devastating impact on the environment. If we fail to make the right changes – there are undoubtedly threats to the environment that could jeopardize our very own existence. Pollution and disease outbreaks will put humans and wildlife at risk of disappearing from the face of the earth. It is our responsibility to protect animals living in the wild and maintain healthy forests. Sierra Leone’s National Animal – the chimpanzee maintains a healthy forest through seed disposal and bees through pollination which is important because it leads to the production of fruits we can eat and seeds that will create more plants.
We need to change the way we conduct ourselves, otherwise we won’t have a future.