By Omar Bah
The Government of the Gambia through the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management in collaboration with the Regional Programme for Marine Conservation (PRCM) is implementing a sub-regional project dubbed “sub-regional support to implement the CBD convention”.
As part of preparations ahead of the implementation, DPWM through funding from PRCM recently organised stakeholders’ consultation meeting to develop a national Ecosystem Action Plan (ERP) on ecosystem restoration in the Gambia from the period of 2018 to 2020 at a local hotel in Kololi.
According to officials, the ecosystem restoration plan (ERP) is a multi-agency efforts aimed at improving and increasing aquatic and terrestrial habitats and ecological function along the River Gambia and its tributaries.
In his opening remarks, the deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Natural Resources Illo Jallow said this initiative is supported by the Regional Partnership on Conservation of Coastal and Marine Protected Areas, to develop a national Ecosystem Restoration Plan for member countries including The Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Guinea, G. Bissau, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone.
“This meeting is a gathering of very important stakeholders across the country and beyond,” DPS Jallow stressed.
“We have been engaged in the restoration of degraded ecosystem for a long period but this is the first national exercise to develop an Ecosystem Restoration Plan (ERP)”.
He said that ecosystem restoration is the return of a damaged ecological system to a stable, healthy, and sustainable state that have been degraded, damaged, or destroyed, often together with associated ecosystem services.
He concluded by saying the current environmental degradation and destruction of the existing landscapes and seascapes of the Gambia is considerable and is taking place on a “catastrophically short timescale’.
He said: “An estimate of the current extinction rate is 10 times more than the normal rate. For many people, biological diversity (biodiversity) has an intrinsic value that humans have a responsibility towards other living things and an obligation to future generations.”
Modou Lamin Gassama director of DPWM said the ERP focus area includes the 80km coastline from Jinack islands to Kartong village, the mangrove stands along the River Gambia, wildlife conservation protected areas, forest parks and sensitive biodiversity hotspots.
He said as the national focal point of the Biodiversity Conservation and Management, the DPWM’s primary role within the program is to help develop the plan through its financier partner (PRCM) to address the goals and objectives of the Ecosystem Restoration Plan.