By Olimatou Coker
The Department of Forestry through the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resouces in partnership with the Food Agricultual Orgainsation (FAO) of the United Nations has recenlty held a day-long forum to review and validate a legal analysis report on forest and land related legislative framework in the Gambia held at the OIC.
The objective of the forum is to engage key stakeholders (eperts and practitoners) on the result of the legal analysis with emphasis on the gaps, constraints identified and set of recommendations to improve sustainble forest managment (SFM) to guide and assist subsequent decision-making proceses.
Speaking, Ms. Moshibudi Rampedi, FAO Representative, said the overall objective of this workshop is to gather feedback on the legal forest and transboundary challenges and deforestation trends in The Gambia as articulated in the draft legal analysis report.
“Today’s task is to critically review the draft report and provide technical inputs and comments to enrich the document in accordance with international standards. We have an opportunity to develop the appropriate next line of actions/interventions for creating utility for the findings and recommendations within the context of the overall regional project.”
She added that FAO is encouraged by the diverse stakeholders attending in person and online. “I, therefore, urge all of you to participate fully in the discussions and interact as much as possible in order to achieve the objectives of this validation workshop.”
She added that FAO has always placed special emphasis on promoting sustainable forest resource management, which today is more important than ever. In The Gambia as in most other ECOWAS countries, the agriculture and natural resources sector is the mainstay of the rural economy, particularly with declining farm productivity experienced over the years. They are nonetheless, constrained by a host of factors.
It is, however, evident that The Gambia government with support from partners such as FAO has made serious efforts to address the common problems. There is a full commitment to reducing poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, and enhancing resilience to climate change by supporting the development of long-term strategic plans for the Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Sector.
According to Ms. Rampedi, FAO has invested considerable resources in different forms to assist Member States to address the agriculture and natural resources challenges in bringing about positive rural economic transformation, environmental protection, and conservation. Within the framework of its development policy objectives, FAO significantly contributed to technical backstopping in the development of the Draft Report that we are to validate today. This is in addition to the development of other framework documents such as the National Forestry Strategy (2019 – 2028) and the National Forestry Action Plan (2019 – 2028).
She thanked the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) for funding the Global Transformation of Forest project in support of the implementation of the ECOWAS Forest Convergence Plan.
Muhammed Jaiteh, Director of Department of Forestry, said “The overall objective of the project is to strengthen decision making on forests and management, and to strengthen capacity at the sub-regional level through ECOWAS and other sub-regional partners to implement elements of the convergence plan.”
He said the project targets three focused areas out of the seven priority areas of the convergence plan which are to improve knowledge of forest dynamics, strengthen the legal forestry framework, and demonstrate and share the best community-based forest practices across the region.
“Given the increasing challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change and expansion of defeated forest landscapes, the outcome of this assessment will go a long way to chart a meaningful pathway to re-adjust our forest and land-related laws, policies, and strategies to steadily reverse the trend.”
Aliue Njie, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, said the document will enable them to assess their level of progress in the implementation of national, international, and sub-regional conventions, treated and protocols signed by the government such as the RIO conventions, CITIES, CEDAW.