Experts call for sustainable management of forest resources
Experts from various institutions including Forestry and Environment, Community Forest Organizations, Timber Re-export Association and other relevant stakeholders Tuesday gathered at Baobab Beach Hotel in Kololi to address the issue of deforestation and climate change by planting one million trees for sustainable management of forest resources, as they noted that the country’s forest is seriously facing increasing exploitation due to population growth. The event was organized by the Ministry of Forestry and Environment.
According to the experts, it is high time that stakeholders, including nongovernmental organizations, private sector and community based organizations and individuals further collaborated more closely in order to achieve the annual planting of one million trees as a national target.
Speaking at the forum, The Gambia’s minister of Forestry and Environment, Hon. Jatto Sillah said that the unique function and value of a forest and forest cover are an important aspect in the livelihood of the populations, while the eco-system is also vital to both wildlife and humans.
He continued to say that the pressure on the forest is increasing on a daily basis.
The Forestry and Environment minister further emphasized that many people highly depend on the forests for the fish and animals that they eat for food while he also pointed out that the communities living close to these forests meet their household needs from this very ecosystem for domestic energy, construction wood, poles, fish ,oyster and so on. Above all, the forest also provides foreign revenue to some of the business individuals and support to enhance the alleviation of poverty within the country, he said.
According to him, since trees serve as important habitat for marine and land mammals, migratory birds, prime nesting areas for hundreds of bird species, they must be jealously protected and utilized in a sustainable manner.
“We should be aware that plants and trees support extensive coastal and upland food webs, provide shoreline stability and erosion prevention including storm protection. Trees service as the power house of nature and will continue as a main energy store as long as they exist.”
Mr. Sillah also called on the people to change their negative attitudes towards extensive exploitation of forest resources which is on the increase due to lack of appreciation of the various ecosystem services and the excessive demand for the plant resources and needs to be addressed collectively.
He mentioned that the situation is exacerbated by the effects of climate change manifested by the existence of deserts and the process of desertification leading to drought in most areas within the sub-region which should be a great concern to everybody as patriotic citizens of the country.
He commended organizations such as Standard Chartered Bank Gambia Limited, Elton Fuel Company, NAWEC and other institutions who have over the years been supportive to the Department of Forestry.
“The approach that we are adopting for this one-million-tree-planting is designed to be totally participatory. It is the involvement of communities and community based organizations, business partners including all stakeholders in the sustainable management of the trees and forest resources. It should be noted that the local communities carry out reforestation and protection programmes on degraded land which needs support in all forms for them to be successful,” he said.
He also reiterated government’s commitment in sustainable management of mangroves and its entire eco-system in The Gambia and beyond under the dynamic leadership of President Jammeh, noting that substantive investment has been made on the nourishment and the rehabilitation of the coastal areas including the estuaries.
Mr. Abdoulie Sanneh, the director of Forestry called on the relevant stakeholders including some private sectors, nongovernmental organizations and individuals to come together and combat deforestation for sustainable use of the forest for the younger generation who are coming up.
According to the forestry director, deforestation and climate change have seriously threatened the Gambian forest which therefore needs an urgent discussion in order to address the issue.