From May 25-26, 2015, the Future Guardians of Peace were able to conduct a Climate Change and Tree planting workshop in Voinjama City for the New Life Community, one hit hard by seasonal storms. This workshop was intended for people to learn how to plant trees, which help to prevent storm destruction and many other important things such as climate change and global warming. The workshop was well attended, with 57 people the first day, and 65 on the second. Those who were not able to attend had the opportunity to listen to the meeting on 99.3:The Voice Of Lofa, one of our four major radio stations.
To successfully conduct the workshop, we first met with the community chairman-Milton S. Ballah, chairlady-Kormassah Kollie, and the youth leader-Emmanuel W. Shaifa to explain the importance of the workshop and why we selected their community. To ensure participants felt part of the whole program, we gave them some responsibilities such as to gather people from the community and to prepare the food.
Women in The New Life Community prepare workshop supplies
On the first day, I presented on global warming and climate change. In discussing global warming, we were able to look at several effects that degrade the quality of life on earth. Some of the effects we mentioned were glacial melt, causing an increase in sea levels that leads to erosion, changes in the quantity and timing of rainfall, both of which affects agricultural yields and leads to food shortages. As we discussed these effects in great detail, people began to realize that some of the things they experience themselves are the result of global warming. Such experiences included crops not doing well, water shortages, longer periods of drought or longer periods of rainfall.
Workshop participants listen closely to the effects of climate change
As we discussed climate change, it was clearly stated that we as humans depend on the survival of the ecosystem, but if we continue to damage it then life on earth would be difficult. Gradually, participants began to understand the causes and effects of climate change, most importantly-that human activities are a primary causes of global warming. However, we pointed out some of the local activities that contribute to climate change such as charcoal production, which has become a source of income for many people, shifting from cultivation and firewood, logging, sawing plants and the burning of fossil fuels that takes place in industrial settings.
In continuation, Mahawa discussed erosion. She presented the three major types of erosions- water erosion, soil erosion and wind erosion. As she explained in great detail, she pointed out key effects and preventive methods. She said, “Erosion makes soil lose materials necessary for plant growth such as iron and phosphorus.” Mahawa emphasized the most preventive and natural method--planting flowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. She expanded on the properties of plants by saying, “the root of a plant helps to hold the soil particles together stopping the soil from washing away.”
Presenting trees to community chairman
On the second day, the discussion was mainly on planting trees as a windbreak and some of the necessary things to look for when doing so. Some of the things that we discussed were understanding the wind’s direction, selecting the right types of trees to plant, placing them in the correct position, as well as how to maintain the trees. During the discussion it was noticed that the wind direction for most homes in Voinjama is north, coming from the Sahara desert.
During lunch, we were able to look at The Green Belt Movement, a movie about the destruction of the Kenyan forest by the British, and a Kenyan woman Wangari Maathai who fights to save it through reforestation techniques. Upon realizing her lush home has turned to a barren desert, she uses her PhD and knowledge of the environment to save the remaining forest. She does so by planting trees and implementing forestry strategies that will help preserve the land for generations to come. From that movie, everyone truly believed what cutting down trees without replacement will do to Liberia and its’ fragile ecosystem.
Community members show off their new trees
Finally, we were able to demonstrate how to successfully plant a tree so people would know how and where to plant them in their own community. In the end, trees were offered to participants. To complete the project we planted additional trees along Monrovia highway, New Voinjama and Lawalazu Road.
-Ezekiel Mavolo, FGP, eg Liberia
Group photo at the commencement of the workshop