Gambia nominated for world forestry awards
The Gambia has nominated for the Community Forestry Management Awards under the Future Policy Award 2011, being organized by the World Future Council, a Hamburg-based charitable foundation which brings the interests of future generations to the centre of policy-making across the world. Through the Future Policy Award, the Council celebrates the world’s most exemplary national policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations and that produce practical and tangible results.
According to a press release from the Council, The Gambia has been recognized for its sustainable forestry policies and good practices, which it notes are cognizant of the needs of future generations.
The Gambia has been specifically recognized for its Community Forestry Management policies, dating back to 1995. According to sector watchers, this recognition is by no means a surprise as the government has formulated distinct forestry policies geared towards protecting the nation’s forest cover. The first forest policy for 1995-2005 embraced the Community Forestry Management (CFM) approach, followed by the Revised Forest Bill and Regulations (1998) which was enacted shortly after to boost the implementation of the CFM. In 2006, the forest policy was revised to include recent developments of the CFM concept, such as community forest enterprise development using the Market Analysis and Development (MA & D) approach, community–based fire management and The Gambia forest communication concept. In 2010, the government also proclaimed the schools’ tree planting programme whereby each new student is expected to plant a tree in the school.
The Gambia has forged closer ties with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in the drive to not only protect, preserve and secure the nation’s endowed forest cover but as well making community forestry sustainable.
In 2000 and 2004, The Gambia benefited from FAO support with the introduction of economic incentives in the community forestry concept through the use of market analysis and development approach with the main purpose of making community forestry a sustainable effort. The country also joined the National Forest Programme Facility hosted by FAO in 2009 and thus received support to expand the community forestry areas and enhance the capacity of stakeholders to obtain economic benefits from community forestry as well as recently support from the global body to revise and popularize the forest policy.
Among the country’s forest policies that have stood tall among those of other African countries is its policy is that it is devolving forest ownership rights to the local population, an experience which has proven that the challenge of sustainable forestry can be attained through the government’s willingness to empower the rural population.
The holistic approach of community forest management now forms the main thrust of the forest department and it is envisioned that by 2011, nearly half of the forests will be under community management. To meet these challenges, communities have in turn established producer groups, generating income from forest management and according to FAO’s Global forest Resources Assessment 2010, forest cover has increased and forest fires have diminished.
Reacting to the news, director of the country’s Department of Forestry, Mr. Abdoulie Sanneh said the political will and unflinching support of the government has been instrumental in achieving the commendable level it has in forest management. He noted that the country’s forestry policies are exemplary, and other countries like Senegal, Tanzania and Guinea Bissau have adopted similar policies to introduce community forestry management.
Mr. Sanneh echoed that the country is on the right track in ensuring that the nation’s forest cover is well protected from all forms of destruction, noting that the forestry department will do everything possible to ensure that sustainable management of the forest gets roots across the country by empowering local communities to take ownership of their natural forest cover.
While he warned against bush fires and indiscriminate cutting of logs and timbers, he called on farmers to spare natural vegetation. He added that anyone found wanting will face the full brunt of the law.
He finally called popular participation by all and sundry to put hands on deck in ensuring that the nation’s forest cover is well preserved for the present time and for posterity. He used the opportunity to thank the Jammeh administration for its giant stride in ensuring that The Gambia is able to reach this far, backed by right policies.
The Future Policy Award is granted by The World Future Council, an international policy research organization that provides decision makers with effective policy solutions. Up to three winning policies will be announced on 21 September 2011 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Winners will represent the most inspiring, innovative and influential forest policies which contribute to the management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests for the benefit of current and future generations.
The announcement will be followed by an awards ceremony in New York on the evening of 21 September, co-hosted by the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) Secretariat, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD), the World Future Council and the Wildlife Conservation Society. These partners are looking forward to the participation of government representatives, high level officials of international organizations and non-governmental organizations, as well as media and civil society.
Jan McAlpine, director of the United Nations Forum on Forests Secretariat said “Human dependence on forest resources for the most basic needs of food, medicine, clean water and shelter are values that call for a local, regional and international political commitment to sustainably managing our forests. Throughout the International Year of Forests 2011, we will celebrate the functions that forests provide to people and the vital role they play in realizing meaningful sustainable development. It is therefore very timely that innovative forest policy solutions are being honoured through this year’s Future Policy Award.”
Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, said: “The world’s forests are facing immense pressures and challenges. Continued deforestation has resulted in an unprecedented loss of forest biodiversity and genetic resources. Yet, the world is not standing idly by. Political leadership is required from Governments in developing and enforcing visionary laws for conserving and sustainably managing forests and their genetic resources for the benefit of present and future generations.”
Alexandra Wandel, executive member of the Management Board of the World Future Council, said, “With the Future Policy Award we want to cast a spotlight on policies that lead by example. The aim of the World Future Council is to raise global awareness for visionary policies and speed up policy action.”
The year 2011 has been declared the International Year of Forests by the United Nations, with the central theme “Forests for People”, to raise consciousness of the multiple values of forests and promote greater awareness of success stories and challenges which many of the world’s forests and the people who depend on them face.
Nineteen forest policies from 16 countries have been nominated for this international award. Nominations include policies from Bhutan, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Finland, The Gambia, Guatemala, Kenya, Nepal, Norway, India, Indonesia, Rwanda, Turkey, the United States of America and Vietnam.