By Ragan M. Conteh
The Executive Director of the National Protected Area Authority (NPAA), Joseph Ranto Musa, has informed Nightwatch that 500 Forest Guards have completed training at the Hastings Training Center and will be passing-out on Saturday 24th October 2020.
Joseph Ranto Musa revealed that the National Protected Area Authority and Conservation Trust Fund Act, 2012, being an Act to provide for the establishment of the National Protected Area Authority and Conservation Trust Fund, is to promote biodiversity conservation, wildlife management, research, to provide for the sale of ecosystems services in the National Protected Areas and to provide for other related matters.
“The vision of the Authority is to provide for the establishment of the National Protected Area Authority and Conservation Trust Fund, to promote biodiversity conservation, wildlife management, research, to provide for the sale of ecosystems services in the National Protected Areas and to provide for other related matters,” he said.
According to Joseph Ranto Musa, the 500 Forest Guards personnel will be deployed nationwide at the national parks, wetland and forests.
He said, among the 500 Forest Guards personnel that have gone through the training, 57 are women and are also among those expected to be deployed in 15 National Parks, 8 designated National Parks and 7 wetland areas across the country.
Giving the background of the National Parks in the country, Director Musa pointed out that, out of 15 National Parks, 8 are in the Western Area Peninsula National Park, Gola National Park and Outamba-Kilimi National Park, Loma Mountain National Park and Kamboi Hills while the other four are designated.
He went further that all these huge parks, across the country, are only few national parks that have Forest Guards personnel to protect the areas, including the peninsula and Loma Mountain, which have only seven Forest Guards personnel.
He said the Loma Mountain is the highest mountain with more than 7000 hectares and also has the largest National Park and has rich biodiversity both fora and fauna. It also has a landscape of 1,010,900 hectares with few security personnel.
He went further that both the Kamboi Hills, in the south, and North have only 25 Forest Guards at the moment. The Forest Guards, in these locations, are too small to mann the security aspect in those areas.
The Executive Director said the NPAA wants to protect these areas, which are rich in biodiversity. He has also decided to request to government as they want to employ 500 more Forest Guards and officers.
He said the Government have granted their request and allocated five billion Leones to train those Guards, provide equipment, uniforms, seven bikes, berets and other equipment for the new Guards who will be deployed in those areas.
Joseph Ranto Musa informed that the training started in September 2020 and that, since that time, the personnel have gone through rigorous trainings, and it is now time for the passing-out ceremony.
“This is the first time government, through NPAA, has trained such a huge number of Forest Guards. We want to protect most areas, which are internationally and locally recognised,” he said.
He furthered that the deployment and protection of forests is good for the economy of Sierra Leone, adding that it encourages tourists, creates more employment opportunities, especially areas that are biodiversity, including Kangari Hills and Outamba-Kilimi National Park.
He said the institution expects President Julius Maada Bio to serve as keynote speaker on Saturday 24th October 2020, adding that they have also invited government officials, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and that people across the country will be converging to grace the ceremony.