The Gambia’s dwindling forest cover and other natural resources that have been at the mercy of human induced activities are well documented. And over the years, several mechanisms and measures have been put in place to curb the rate at which such phenomena like land degradation continue to take place.
In line with these efforts, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, a formidable partner of The Gambia government signed with the Environment Ministry what is dubbed Community-based Sustainable Dry Land Forestry Management Project at the Ministry of Fisheries.
The development marks a gargantuan step as it seeks to address the underlying issues bordering on the degradation of dry land forest.
Among them: unsustainable and uncontrolled resource extraction, forest fire, population growth exacerbated by the lack of adequate socio-economic/livelihood opportunities.
What is gratifying about this project is that it caters for a significant number of 82 communities thanks to substantial funding of the Global Environment Facility. It also comes at a time when many communities in the different regions of the country are heavily involved in environmental protection and conservation measures. Tree planting activities and forums promoting the sustainable use and management of natural resources have become a central plank of both voluntary youth groups and community-based organisations.
Climate change in particular and its attendant problems are nothing new to a country like The Gambia. Their adverse effects on livelihood sources notably farming and fishing pose a danger to ongoing national efforts to ensure food security and poverty alleviation.
A project that is anchored on strengthening policy and institutional capacity for sustainable dry land forest management and rehabilitation as well as information dissemination is absolutely welcome. With regions such as the North Bank still paying a heavy price for deforestation, the over three million US Dollar Community-based Sustainable Land Forestry Management Project provides a glimmer of hope.
We urge all stakeholders to ensure effective implementation of this project and to also create the necessary platforms for synergy with other existing programmes currently running with the same objective of conservation of natural resources.