Banner Image: Logs lie on the ground in Bondi-Mandingo Chiefdom, Gbarpolu County. The DayLight/Harry Browne

By: Emmanuel Sherman

ROBERTSPORT, Grand Cape Mount County – A Liberian environmentalist called for stronger action on ecosystem restoration as Liberia celebrated World Environment Day.

Richard Sambolah of Farmers Associated to Conserve the Environment (FACE), told the public to get involved in fight to save the planet.

“Ecosystems supports all life on earth,” Sambolah said at the national program marking the global event in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County over the weekend. He echoed the global theme of the event: “Ecosystem Restoration.” “Healthier ecosystems with richer biodiversity yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases.”

Liberia holds more than 40 percent of the Upper Guinea Forest but has seen a good portion of its biodiversity lost to things like illegal logging, unsustainable mining and bad farming methods. Sambolah recognized some efforts already being made to restore those lost ecosystems.  He listed the landscape restoration in communities around the Gola Forest, the National Tree Planting Day on May 19 each year and his group’s restoration of mangrove in the Lake Piso area. However, he said there was more that the country needed to do. 

“There should be a National landscape restoration program put in place to encourage tree planting,” Sambolah said.  He recommended the introduction of landscape restoration in the curricula of universities, colleges and technical schools in the country. He also recommended implementation of simple, practical ecology training programs for protected communities, and support campaigns for sustainable urban planning.   

A pond in Bondi-Mandingo chiefdom, Gbarpolu County. The DayLight/Harry Browne

Sambolah decried the suspending of a cleanup campaign for beaches and waterfronts in Monrovia and its environs last year, an apparent swipe at authorities. The program ended in chaos last year after hundreds of volunteers protested for over 20 months of wages. The Ministry of Youth and Sports led the controversial project.

“A beach clean-up program should be a continuous process, and not just an event in Liberia,” he told the ceremony hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “Mobilize all ages to gather the masses of household wastes and abandoned fishing gears that are deposited on our beaches and shores. The more people take part in beach cleaning, the more awareness grows of the need to reduce waste on beaches.”

World Environment Day came into being as a result of United Nations General Assembly Resolution adopted in 1972, declaring the 5th of June of each year to be observed by all member-states. The observance of day provides the opportunity to focus worldwide attention on the importance of the environment.  The celebration this year marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Lagata Abebe, the deputy resident coordinator of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), urged Liberia to take urgent action to revive its degraded ecosystem.

President George Weah had said at an environment conference three days before the celebration that his government would align the Pro-poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development with the combat against climate change and protect environment. Liberia has ratified the Paris Agreement and is poised to reviewing its commitment to the accord at the upcoming global climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland (COP 26).

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