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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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“Deforestation isn’t just about losing trees; it’s about losing our future,” FAO Representative in The Gambia

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International Day of Forests 2024 will be celebrated on 21 March, amidst the global celebration themed ‘Forests and Innovation,’ FAO, a leading force in restoring vital forest ecosystems, urges Gambians to join hands in safeguarding our precious vegetation.

 In The Gambia, forests and woodlands cover about 46.0% of the land, with 0.2% designated as primary forest—an essential haven for biodiversity. However, despite having 1,000 hectares of planted forest, the country faces challenges of loosing  hectares of tree cover  equivalent to  kilotonnes of Carbon dioxide emissions.

With deforestation rates escalating and climate change posing imminent threats, FAO Gambia has initiated proactive measures to address this pressing challenge. Through innovative projects like the Forest Farm Facility, FAO is restoring depleted forest cover and fostering resilient landscapes in strategic locations.

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In collaboration with partners like UNIDO, FAO has introduced eco-friendly cooking technologies in key areas, furthering the mission to protect our forests and safeguard the rich biodiversity they sustain.  Initiatives like the Global Environmental Facility funded Community-Based Sustainable Dry Land Forest Management Project have distributed 4,000 improved cooking stoves to 2,000 households, aiming to mitigate forest degradation by promoting sustainable cooking practices and reducing reliance on firewood and charcoal production.

 “Investing in eco-friendly alternatives like the FAO Thiaroye Processing Technique ovens is key to minimizing environmental impact and ensuring a healthier sustainable future for local communities,”   explains Shibu Rampedi highlighting FAO’s commitment to innovative solutions.

Through partnerships like the United Nations-sponsored Peace Building Fund and the Global Environmental Facility, FAO is raising awareness about the detrimental effects of charcoal production and offering alternative income opportunities such as horticulture and beekeeping. “Empowering communities through initiatives like beekeeping not only strengthens livelihoods but also contributes to preserving Gambia’s precious vegetation and  generating income” Rampedi again, underscoring FAO’s holistic approach to safeguarding biodiversity.

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Mangrove forest conservation will be enhanced by the national authorities and the Green Climate Fund support. Through collective efforts and a focus on practical solutions, positive change towards a greener, more sustainable future is possible. By advocating for environmental stewardship and fostering a culture of conservation, deforestation can be halted. “Let’s stand together to protect our forests, restore ecosystems and safeguard the rich biodiversity they sustain”.

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