In a bid to continue promoting conservation issues in the country, the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) received support in the form of a scoping grant in July 2018 from the Darwin Initiative, a UK based international organisation in the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs. The aim of the grant is to raise awareness and galvanise stakeholder interest and commitment for land use planning in and around the Western Area Peninsula. This will lead to development of a proposal with multi-stakeholder support and action for a land use plan that guarantees the conservation of the Western Area Peninsula Forest National Park (WAPF NP). Since one of the activities of the grant was to raise awareness through tree planting, CSSL in collaboration with the Forestry Division of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAFF) identified the Goderich campus of Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCE&T) in Freetown, which has a vast area of land that has been deforested and being encroached upon, for the tree planting activity. CSSL worked with relevant college authorities, including the Principal and College Estate Officer, to organise and conduct the activity as an initial step towards achieving the objective of the grant. The trees would provide an orchard, which could also be used as a study/research ground for students, whilst protecting the college land from encroachment.
The activity was conducted on the 7th September 2018, and witnessed by over fifty people drawn from various institutions including secondary schools, MMCE&T, MAFF and other related agencies.
In order to sensitise participants who were mostly school pupils and students, on the relevance of the activity, statements were delivered by various personalities before the activity. The Principal of MMCE&T indicated that even if the college had to utilise the designated land for other purposes later, they needed to conserve it now especially when the trees that would be planted during the activity would be used by students as a study ground. The Executive Director of CSSL, Dr. Sheku Kamara, noted that the tree planting occasion was a symbolic event that needed to be continued as pronounced by His Excellency the President of Sierra Leone, Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, in one of his addresses to the nation. He continued that the importance of trees in our lives was tremendous and should not be underestimated. Various other speakers, including the Principal of MMCE&T, Dr. Philip J. Kanu, also gave different perspectives of the relevance of trees on the environment, animals and humans generally.
The tree planting exercise climaxed the occasion, with a total of 250 different species of seedlings planted in an area of two acres, including 60 Butter Pear, 30 Beslina, 20 Sweet Sap, 100 Tombi, 15 Mgelina, 10 Cocoa and 15 Cashew.