Forestry, Agric ministers spearhead afforestation crusade
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
ministers were among over 300 volunteers from the communities of Kangfenda and
Kanilai, including members of the Wood Re-exporters and Forest Users
Association of The Gambia, who over the weekend transplanted up to 800 Mahogany
trees along the Kangfenda-Kanilai Highway in Foni Kansala.
Fatou Ndey Gaye and Solomon Owens, ministers of Forestry and Environment, and Agriculture, respectively, led the exercise, which was initiated by the Wood Re-exporters and Forest Users of The Gambia. The tree-planting exercise was meant to complement government’s efforts in maintaining the country’s forest cover by replacing the cut trees. The two ministers congratulated the communities of Kanilai and Kangfenda for their participation in the exercise, and expressed gratitude to the Wood Re-exporters and Forest Users Association of The Gambia for the initiative.
the exercise, minister Gaye said: “The exercise is very important for the
environment. If we kill and exhaust all the trees we have today what will the
children use in the future? We would have caused a lot of problems for them. So
this initiative is very timely and I am sure that the president will appreciate
the effort that is being put into the planting of the trees and will complement
the intention of The Gambia to plant one million trees a year. So this is part
of it and we will count it as part of it.”
On his part, Solomon Owens also described the initiative as important. He said that one will see the big difference when comparing the environment 42 years ago and today. He lamented that most of the trees are gone, pointing out that the disappeared trees are not the cheap and small ones, but trees that are very expensive.
the reason I am happy with the species of trees you have transplanted today.
Also, it is easy to plant trees but caring is another problem,” he observed,
while recalling a report published 10 years ago which stated that despite all
the efforts put into tree planting every year, the survival rate at the end of
the season is always less than 10%.
continued: “I think that is very serious. So my appeal to this community on
behalf of President Jammeh is to put in place strategies to make sure the trees
planted along the highway survive. We want to see 90% survival of these trees
next time we come here and the best way to do that is, if it doesn’t rain
tonight, make sure you have some water there to water them the following day
otherwise they start deteriorating.
Once they are established, then their survival is guaranteed. So it is very important as from today to place a strategy and put somebody to water them otherwise all our efforts will go in vein and it is high time we put so much emphasis and attention to our forest.” Minister Owens also appealed to all the communities in the country to ensure that tree planting becomes part of their strategy to preserve their environment and for maintaining the agricultural system of the country.
speaking at the closing of the exercise, the acting director of Forestry,
Sarjoh Fatajoh, said the objective of the tree planting exercise was to replace
the ones that were cut. He stressed on the need for a proper security mechanism
to ensure the survival of the planted trees.
“Tree planting is a very important exercise because for years back there was
more rainfall than we have now and human beings cannot live without trees and
there cannot be life without trees. Therefore, the importance of trees cannot
be overemphasised. This is just the beginning. We are going to continue the
exercise and it is going to be countrywide.”
chairman of the Wood Re-exporters and Forest Users Association of The Gambia,
Lamin Barrow, on behalf of the members who are mostly youths, said they
[youths] are very proud of President Jammeh and his Cabinet for providing them
with a conducive environment to work and make a good living in their own
that travelling to Europe through the back-way has reduced significantly over
the last two years because the youths have now realised the potentials in the
country that they can tap to earn a good living. “I would not say it’s because
of the wood re-export trade, but it has also contributed significantly to close
that gap by creating gainful employment for the youths. The youths have asked
me to extend to you the ministers present here, their utmost desire to rally
behind President Jammeh for all his undertakings in supporting their welfare,”
explained that they deemed it necessary to involve the communities of Kangfenda
and Kanilai, including the Fire and Rescue Services and other security
personnel, to ensure the sustainability of the planted trees. “This
Association’s aims and objective is not only profit-making but we always want
to add our quota to national development,” he said. He then
assured that with support from the line ministries and others, they will
contribute immensely to the protection of the forest.
Other speakers at the occasion included the alkalos of Kanilai and Kangfenda, Ebou Jammeh and Lamin Bojang, respectively, and the chief of Foni Kansala, Mamadou Lamin Jarju.
Author: Bintou KB Janneh