Environment Minister Highlights Government’s Commitment on Endangered Species
Geneva, Switzerland, Monday November 6 2023- Sierra Leone Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Mr. Jiwoh Emmanuel Abdulai and his technical team are participating at the ongoing 77th Meeting of the Standing Committee on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Standing Committee provides policy guidance to the Secretariat on the implementation of the Convention, oversees the management of the Secretariat’s budget, and coordinates the work of other committees and other working groups.
At the Meeting, the government representatives and other International Organizations would discuss International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora from Monday 7th to Friday 10th, November 10, 2023.
During the opening of the high-level segment, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change highlighted Government strives on investments and commitment to CITES compliance and sustainable forest management.
The Minister informed the gathering that the forest resources of Sierra Leone are key economic resources for domestic use and international trade, and are making critical investments for current and future sustainable use of our resources, consistent with international best practice and biodiversity conservation concepts.
He said the international trade of timber species (especially Pterocarpus erinaceus) from Sierra Leone is critical for our economic development, and needs growth in rural infrastructure, and investment in our resource management. Adding that the government is making key investments in compliance and to address species specific issues of CITES.
"Our priority has been to complete Non-Detriment Findings (NDF) and Legal Acquisition Findings (LAF) for addressing compliance and lifting the Zero-Export Quota for Pterocarpus erinaceus,” he noted.
The Environment Minister disclosed that Sierra Leone Scientific Authority has completed a national, district and chiefdom level survey and inventory of timber species to complete the NDF compliance process.
“The results are verifiable and based on sound science. They set forth the data for sustainable harvest of the species going forward. Sierra Leone Management Authority has taken very proactive steps to engage international experts, such as Forest Source, LLC, to work with the Ministry to institute a comprehensive digital traceability and inventory management system to address compliance with our national laws and international trade of CITES to increase investment in sustainable forest management and Legal Acquisition compliance process through digital traceability tools and data management systems,”Mr. Jiwoh Emmanuel Abdulai alluded.
The Minister further said, based on the country investments is a comprehensive traceability system and engagement with Forest-Source, Sierra Leone has submitted an updated NDF and LAF procedures for review by the Standing Committee and Plants Committee for lifting the Zero-Export Quota, which was self-imposed by Sierra Leone in 2022, to ensure effective compliance with international standards.
"The NDF data for Pterocarpus erinaceus was verified through the international experts and has formed the basis for establishing a national annual harvestable quota of 152,649 cubic meters.
From the national quota they will take a precautionary principal approach and only allocate 50% to our export quota which would be (75,000) cubic meters per year of the species - for the first two years - with incremental monitoring based on updates to our NDF", he said
The Minister called on the Standing Committee to consider the fact that Sierra Leone Timber Companies have Pre-Zero Export Quota of legally harvested stocks of Pterocarpus logs, which are privately owned and which we consider compliant to export under our established export quota, and consistent with the existing legislations.
He disclosed that Sierra Leone propose to allocate the annual export quota of 75,000 cubic meters to the Pre-Zero Export Harvested Stocks of Pterocarpus erinaceus for two years and not issue licenses to harvest any Pterocarpus tree until this allocation and export is completed.
The Minister assured the committee that all logs that are Pre-Zero Export legally harvested stocks will be put through our LAF procedures. Adding that the logs will be tallied, numbered, and identified in our traceability system.
In conclusion, the Minister pledged Government's unflinching commitment through its national protected area network to conserve vast areas of Pterocarpus erinaceus woodland in the Outamba-Kilimi National Park, which ensures the perpetual preservation of the species in Sierra Leone.
The Minister was accompanied by Ambassador to Switzerland and Permanent Representative of Sierra Leone to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations, Dr Lansana Gberie, Madam Kate M.B. Karemo-Garnett, Director of Forestry, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change and Dr. Arnold D. Okoni-Williams, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone.
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