The Ministry of Environment and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Thursday signed a US$3.1 million community-based sustainable dry land forestry management project.
The project will be implemented in 82 communities in the North Bank, Central River, Upper River and Lower River regions. It is aimed at addressing the underlying needs of degradation of dry land forest such as unsustainable and uncontrolled resource extraction, forest fire, increased population pressure and lack of adequate socioeconomic/livelihood opportunities.
The five-year project, 2016-2021, is mainly funded by the Global Environment Facility and co-financed by the FAO, The Gambia Government, the Agency for the Development of Women & Children (ADWAC), and the Department of Forestry.
Speaking at the event, FAO Country Representative Dr. Perpetua Katepa-Kalala, said the specific objective of the project is to reduce forest degradation in The Gambia. “The project will work towards strengthening policy and institutional capacity for sustainable dry land forest management, community based sustainable dry land forest management and rehabilitation and project monitoring and evaluation and information dissemination,” she said, noting that desertification and land degradation are major environmental issues faced by The Gambia.
She acknowledged that at the beginning of the twentieth century, most of the Gambian territory was still covered by dense forest. “By 2010, the forest cover was about 44% of the total land area of which 1.1% was closed forest and nearly 70% degraded.” She stated that this is a major threat to poverty reduction, eradication of hunger and continued development of affected communities, especially in the northern part of the country.
The Minister of Environment, Hon. Pa Ousman Jarju, said government is doing all efforts in the fight against climate change. He said the overall objective is to halt environmental degradation and the growing threat of desertification in The Gambia as a result of continued deforestation, through empowering communities with the legal security, skills and the knowledge necessary to sustainably manage their natural resources and conserve the remaining biodiversity.
by Alhagie Babou Jallow
& Binta Jammeh