16th June 2019
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Minister calls for safeguarding of “our forests”

Author: Ayuen Panchol | Published: 3 months ago

African golden cat walk along a trail in the forests of Western Equatoria. Photo: FFI & Bucknell University

The Minister of Agriculture and Food Security has encouraged the general public to invest in forests by at least planting seedlings to replace the destroyed ones.

The message came during the marking of the ‘International Day of Forests’ at Mayo Basic Primary School in Juba yesterday.

Onyoti Adigo said deforestation in South Sudan has reached a catastrophic level that requires the intervention of everyone.

Two years ago, President Salva Kiir issued a directive to all security organs to seize and arrest anyone found engaged in charcoal business.

Residents have witnessed most of the charcoal supplied to Juba is carried out by men in uniform, who even use government vehicles to conduct the “illicit” business.

“We are last to plant trees, but we are active to destroy trees,” Onyotti said.

These individuals do not plant seedlings over an area of land where the forest has been harvested or damaged by fire, disease or their activity.

It is also a general practice in South Sudan to burn grass in occupied or unoccupied lands, which on several occasions has been reported to involve the destruction of farms and Greenlands.

Minister Onyotti said such activities threatens the environment and the weather in South Sudan.

South Sudan has been experiencing extreme heat -reaching levels of 40 degrees Celsius -since the end of last year.

“Rain comes when we have enough trees, but now when the man destroys the trees, it becomes a disaster,” said Onyotti.

Every 21st of March, the United Nations raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests.

This year the International Day of Forests promotes education to learn to love forests.

It underscores the importance of education at all levels in achieving sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation.

“It is very import that we have to learn, to educate ourselves about the importance of forests. Forests provide us with, for example; teak, and teak can improve our economy. We get [some] medicines for treatment from the forest,” Onyotti added.

According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated 18 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of forest, which is roughly the size of the country of Panama, are lost each year.

Forestation requires individuals to plant trees to replace a forest those which have been cut down.

The UN notes that “healthy forests mean healthy, resilient communities and prosperous economies.”

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