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Sierra Leone President Visits Timber Factory Over Rising Demand for Wood

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By Pratt John, Freetown

President Dr Julius Maada Bio has visited MIRO Forestry and Timber Products Company following the rising demand for wood, expressing hope of dealing with its devastating impacts on natural ecosystems.

President Bio was speaking during a visit to MIRO Forest, a British -owned commercial forestry company in Northern Province .

“Normally, when we think about meeting the resource needs of a growing population, issues of food and water security often come to mind, but there is another type of resource that also deserves equal attention. The rising demand for it, not only presents a supply problem for consumers, but also, it has direct and devastating impacts on our natural ecosystems and on our climate – that resource is wood.

“Unfortunately, most of the global demand for wood has historically been met by cutting down natural forests. Although agriculture continues to be the leading driver of global deforestation and degradation, demand for wood has had greater deforestation impacts in certain areas,” he said.

The President further noted that deforestation was also a major contributor to global carbon dioxide emissions, second only to fossil fuels, but expressed high hopes that forest plantations, like MIRO Forestry and Timber Products Company, were in a position to change that trend now.

“This is why I am particularly delighted to be here at this MIRO operating site because we have a shared belief that trees are the primary solution to reducing atmospheric carbon dioxide.

“Undoubtedly, forest plantations provide a multitude of benefits that can be categorized as economic, ecological, and social.
Forest plantations are business alternatives that help curb the accelerated loss of natural forests, improve degraded land, sequester carbon dioxide and therefore combat climate change, improve local livelihoods by providing employment and revenue and bolstering national economies,” he stated.

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President Bio added that the main benefit of forest plantations was that by ensuring wood production through sustainable sources, they took the pressure off the natural forests, because the more wood and fiber products derived from the plantations, the less it would be necessary to extract from the natural forests, which would be conserved for other values.

Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Collins, said they were a British-owned commercial forestry company, established in Sierra Leone since 2011 and engaged in growing trees with a focus on electrification poles, which were being used by mobile network companies and the government-run Electricity Distribution and Supply Authority, and the production of plywood.

He said in those years they had planted over 12 million trees as one of the largest in Africa, adding that their products aspired to international standards.

“Forests are the lungs of the world. Therefore, we should ensure we keep them and protect them,” he said, adding that they had employed about 1,300 people within the localities.

British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Lisa Chesney, noted that the company’s establishment in the country was indicative of the country’s good working business environment.

“The operation of Miro shows that we can support the economy and the government without trashing the environment,” she added. She disclosed that Miro also continued to support UK’s aid projects in Sierra Leone and expressed delight at the fact that 20 percent of the company’s employees were women.

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