By Maimuna Sey-Jawo
Habib Saikou Drammeh, the Secretary General and Head of Civil Service has stated that The Gambia lost about 97,000 hectares of forest cover in the last decade alone. This, he said, corresponds to an average annual loss of 2.3 percent of forest cover.
Drammeh made this statement recently during the launching of the Large Scale Ecosystem-based Adaptation project at a local hotel in Senegambia.
The civil service boss added that due to current worsening climate change impacts, the rare of replenishment of lost natural ecosystems ranges from negative growth of the forest to just modest improvements.
He said in The Gambia the unprecedented upsurge in the export and re-export of precious timber from the country during the last decade, partly in response to huge demands from new markets, particularly in Asia, as alternative sources of income to many, who once tilled the soils, is negating all our national efforts to restore our life-supporting natural resource endowments.
SG Drammeh stated that evidences of the harmful effect of climate change in The Gambia include decreased average rainfall and duration of the rainy season, increase frequency and length of droughts, increase temperatures, and increased frequency and severity of flashfloods in the period since 1945.
The Large Scale Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EBA) project, he went on, shall equally sustainably exploit the ecosystem services of these interlocking natural treasures such as pollination, fisheries, ecotourism, particularly for rural communities.
“The project will rehabilitate up to 10,000 hectares of degraded forest and wildlife parks through reforestation, enrichment planting, conservation of rare or endangered species as well as the restoration of 3, 000 hectares of abandoned and marginal agricultural lands,” he noted.
He said 50 % of the targeted beneficiaries of the project will be women who are the primary career sand exploiters of most natural recourses, adding that the project is about harmonizing the conservation of natural resources and their commercial exploitation to boost their market values, thus ensuring tangible benefits to the communities engaged in such enterprises.
Mr. Drammeh said the EBA project is timely adaptation initiative that will go a long way in not only restoring a good portion of our degraded natural resource base but equally create the right atmosphere for the sustainable exploitation of these important resources, thus attracting the enthusiasm of the local community to become concerned stakeholders of this natural heritage in their own localities.
He challenged the project staff to demonstrate strong commitment and leadership in ensuring that the targets are not only met, but even exceeded in order that this country could ultimately establish itself as a model of the project in Africa.