Declaring the workshop open, Dr. Abdul Babatunde Karim - Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Science at the University of Sierra Leone said the NPAA was established by an Act of Parliament in 2012 to effectively manage all protected Areas in Sierra Leone ensuring the flora and fauna.
He said there are 15 protected areas of which 7 are wetlands and 8 are terrestrials all under the management of the authority.
He informed that four have been upgraded as National Parks whilst 11 proposed to be upgraded to protected area status.
According to the NPAA representative, the land area under protection is only about 8 percent but that the authority is working towards increasing the protected areas to about 20 percent of the land area of Sierra Leone.
In this regards he went on, two sites have been indentified and negotiated with communities for management in the southeast and northern regions as protected areas.
Dr. Karim said with reference to endangered and threatened species, Sierra Leone became a member of the Convention on International Trade In Endanger Species (CITIES) on 28th October, 1994 and was enforced in 1995 and the National Protected Area Authority (NPPA) has the mandate to oversee the implementation of CITIES.
He said therefore as the authority in charge, looking at the growing size of protected area managers across various institutions in the country, we are delighted to collaborate with institutions that are dedicated to protect and conserved the biodiversity of Sierra Leone and to ensure that our beautiful nation rises above the waters of climate change.
He said this workshop was jointly organized by the NPPA and the West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WA BiCC) to involve various stakeholders in identifying experts in various species including those that are endangered or threatened, in an effort to ensure effective collaboration and networking. Our country must have a steadfast flow of information when it comes to protected areas and management, he said.
Speaking earlier the Deputy Chief of Party at WA BICC, Tiega Anada said Sierra Leone has ratified several conventions for protection of biodiversity including the Convention on Biodiversity in 1995 and the convention on International Trade in endangered Species of Wild Fauna and flora in 1994.
He said within this context, Sierra Leone submit regular reports to the secretariat of these conventions and is required to integrate their prescription into its policies, legislation and regulations for forestry and wildlife Management. Implementation of these prescriptions is however hampered by the paucity of current scientifically collected data that can be used in making management decisions and informing policy development and implementation.
The Chief of Party said, today we are here to work together and strengthen our relation for all of us working on wildlife species. We know Sierra Leone has a framework but there is need to look at the regional framework and integrate them.
“We hope this working group will be able to look at the linkages as we go along, and the need to make sure these linkages work for the good of the region. We all know animals or wildlife knows nothing about political border or politics. They cross from one point to the other and into various communities and the more reason why we need to protect them. There is every need to have a document that will protect wildlife within the region. What we are doing here is happening in Ivory Coast and other places he said.
He said in order to address these issues, WA BiCC processes to support the West Africa States to establish National Species Working Groups made up of individual species specialists who will be empowered to identify where such data is available, collect, syntheses and share the data as appropriate, provide expert advice and share the data as appropriate, provide expert advice to national biodiversity management authorities and contribute to generating National reports to the CBD, CMS or CITES secretariats, as well as contribute to preparing national and regional positions for related meetings at regional or global levels.
Harold Williams from ENFORAC in his statement said the ecosystem seems to be fragmented and because of population explosion animals and human beings are now fighting for the same habitat. We are also looking at climate change and species migration which is very important and the need to collaborate and work together, he said.