World Wetlands Day 2002: Sierra Leone

07/03/2002

From: emmanuel alieu [ealieu@hotmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, March 06, 2002 2:50 PM
To: ramsar@ramsar.org

WORLD WETLANDS DAY CELEBRATIONS IN SIERRA LEONE

Preparations for World Wetlands Day Celebration started with the constitution of a 27 - member National Wetlands Committee following several consultations in other natural resource management for a involving some stakeholders.

On Wednesday 8th January, the Forestry, Agriculture, Marine Resources and Land & Water Development Divisions in collaboration with the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone confirmed a programme for the observance to comprise of

2, 30 - minute TV discussions on 15th and 24th January
1, 30 - minute Radio discussion on
1. 60 - minute phone-in radio discussion on 31st January to Saturday 2nd
February

An inaugural meeting/seminar of the Wetlands Committee on Monday 4th February Public notice slots from 15th January to 4th February

The radio and TV discussions underscored the economic and socio-cultural importance of wetlands; major threats to wetlands in Sierra Leone and suggesting strategies for involving all stakeholders in wetland management in Sierra Leone.

The phone-in-radio discussion defined wetlands and their importance in tourism, rural development, transportation, traditional values etc. The phone line was later opened for suggestions, questions and even queries from the public who underscored the following points:

a. Limited publicity/sensitization on the value of wetlands
b. Limited support to government institutions involved in wetlands management
c. Uncontrolled use of fish poisons, dynamite explosives etc.
d. The effect of the war on conservation gains made at protected areas such as Outamba/Kilimi National Park; Tiwai Island Game Sanctuary; Mamunta Mayoso Wetland etc.

Callers were surprised to note that the pigmy hippopotamus still strives in Sierra Leone and lamented at the extinction of the lion about 6 decades ago.

The following papers were presented at the Wetlands seminar held on 4th February:

a. The economic values of Wetlands by E.K. Alieu, Director of Forests.

b. Wetlands and their socio-cultural values in Sierra Leone - H.R.S. Mohammed Ag. Dep. Director of Forests.

c. Wetlands and National Development; the pros and cons of development projects in third world countries - A..F. Conteh - Ag. Asst. Director of Forests.

d. Major threats to the Wetlands of Sierra Leone and how their impacts could be contained - D.D. Siaffa, Programme Coordinator, Conservation Society of Sierra Leone

e. Effective Conservation Education Strategies for Wetlands of Sierra Leone - Alhaji Siaka - Site Conservation Officer, (GEF/IBA Project) Conservation Society of Sierra Leone

Following the above presentations fruitful discussions centred around the following relevant issues:

i. Legal protection of Wetlands to be reflected in National Legislation

ii. Inland Valley Swamp development as it affects aquatic life cultural values and the decimation of roofing materials

iii. The impact of gold, diamond, rutile etc. mining on wetlands

iv. Effect of fertilizer and other yield - enhancing chemicals on swamp ecology

v. The mechanical conditions of boats plying the sea routes to Conakry, Banjul etc and motorised fishing boats sometimes spilling oil.

vi. Effluent from industries i.e. Electricity Power House; The Sierra Leone Brewery and the oil terminals at Kissy.

vii. The fate of the Wetlands proposal recently forwarded to the Ramsar Secretariat

viii. The impact of road construction; real estate development etc. on wetlands.

Other matters discussed included:

a. The increase in the wetlands committee membership list to 36 (full list attached)

b. The formulation of a small committee to compile terms of reference for the committee

c. Recognition of the Committee by government

e. Frequency of meetings etc.

A technical sub-committee comprising of Fisheries, Forestry, Conservation Society and the Land and Water Development Division was established to handle technical matters before reporting to the parent body.

The entire low-key observance costs about USD900.00 with fuel, lubricants, stationery provided by Government. Some of the funding was obtained from the Global environmental Facility - funded Important Bird Areas Project and some from the Re-Afforestation funds of the Forestry Division.

We hope to celebrate in grand-style with a 2 - 3 day seminar; field visits to threatened wetlands and wetlands of cultural and traditional importance. Radio and TV programmes will be increased accordingly.

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