Following the recently announced acquisition of a portion of land in Bijilo for a new U.S. Embassy complex and a subsequent press release from The Gambia Environmental Alliance (GEA), the Department of Forestry (DoF) wishes to inform the public that GEA’s press release is entirely inaccurate and therefore, misleading.
It is imperative to remember that the Bijilo Forest Park has been gazetted since 1952 and the peripheral boundaries have never changed as indicated in the wrong Google map presented by GEA. The DoF is currently fencing the entire peripheral boundaries (3.5 Km) of the park with solid structures to curb potential encroachment and to ensure the security and safety of visitors to the park. In fact, the boundaries of these two portions of land are physically separated by an access road of 4-5m serving as a firebreak and for staff patrol of the park. The former ITC, now WALIC, is on the Eastern side of the access road towards the main Bertil Harding Highway while Bijilo Forest Park is on the Western side towards the sea front/beach.
The Bijilo National Park commonly referred to as Monkey Park is not part of the area marked in pink on The Gambia Environmental Alliance’s misleading Google map.
It is clear from the attached satellite map that the Monkey Park is not affected even by a centimetre by the proposed development. The satellite imagery also shows that the area under consideration (WALIC) is almost completely occupied by buildings and limited vegetation or forest cover.
Furthermore, it is important to point out that the U.S Government will fully fund the relocation and construction of an ultra-modern premises for WALIC in a more suitable location, away from the new highway currently under construction.
We therefore, wish to reassure the public that the Monkey Park will not be in anyway affected by the proposed new US Embassy development. If anything, this project will add value to WALIC with a new state of the art visitor centre and the paved road to the beach for better and safer public access.