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  • Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs

  • It was December 2015,

  • a month since the end of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone,

  • and I was driving along the Grafton Road

  • on the outskirts of our capital city, Freetown.

  • I'd driven along that road so many times over the past 18 months,

  • but honestly, I'd been so preoccupied, I didn't notice my surroundings.

  • But that afternoon,

  • I wasn't distracted, and I took it all in.

  • I was shocked.

  • So much of the once-lush green forest cover

  • had simply disappeared.

  • I felt physically sick as I parked my car and looked at the barren hills around me.

  • I wasn't just witnessing and mourning the loss of beauty,

  • crushing though that was.

  • I was witnessing and mourning the very real impact of climate change,

  • which is felt in ways both large and small in my city,

  • my country

  • and on my continent.

  • Sierra Leone now regularly experiences extreme weather patterns,

  • particularly abnormally heavy rainfall or delayed rains,

  • both of which can lead to crop failures

  • and in turn fuel the migration of people from rural areas to cities.

  • In Freetown, a city of 1.2 million people,

  • the pressure for housing and the absence of development control

  • has led to the establishment of over 70 informal settlements

  • in the past 20 years.

  • This, combined with the sale of forested land to house builders,

  • has resulted in the deforestation

  • which came into such sharp focus for me that afternoon.

  • Less than two years later, in August 2017,

  • a massive landslide near that area led to the loss of about 1,000 lives

  • in less than five minutes.

  • This is not an abstract crisis.

  • The loss of our forests is not just about the loss of some shade.

  • It's about the loss of our ability to live.

  • Wanting to do something about this was one of the factors

  • that led to my decision to run for mayor of Freetown,

  • a position I've held since 2018.

  • And one of my favorite initiatives

  • is to make Freetown a tree town once again.

  • Our goal:

  • to increase vegetation cover by 50 percent in Freetown

  • by the end of my term in 2022.

  • That means we will plant a million trees within the next two years.

  • And we start by planting the first 500,000 seedlings

  • this rainy season.

  • For this to work, we need to involve everyone.

  • We need to make our city collectively proud of what we can do together

  • to protect ourselves

  • and our homes.

  • For nearly a year now,

  • 15 different species of trees have been nursed on 11 sites

  • across the city.

  • And now each tree will be planted in a home, a school,

  • an office, a public space, on a hillside or in a mangrove

  • by a tree steward.

  • Anyone in Freetown can opt to be a tree steward.

  • And the growth of the trees

  • will be tracked by our community-based growing teams

  • using our custom-made Treetracker app.

  • This isn't just about planting trees,

  • it's about growing trees,

  • and it's about ensuring that each one of us

  • is part of the process.

  • A million trees will not fix climate change.

  • But they will reduce the risk of landslides and flooding,

  • and they will reintroduce biodiversity --

  • I've already seen the butterflies back in the park.

  • And they will protect our water catchments.

  • A million trees is our city's small contribution

  • to increasing the much-needed global carbon sink.

  • Perhaps you should plant some trees, too.

  • Thank you.

Transcriber: TED Translators Admin Reviewer: Rhonda Jacobs

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B1 loss planting tree leone sierra leone sierra

The city planting a million trees in two years | Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/01
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