The Minister of forestry and environment, climate change and natural resources has expressed worry about the rate of deforestation and land degradation in the country as revealed by the last national forest resources assessment of 2010.
Hon. Lamin Dibba said the level of forest cover loss is at 97,000 hectares as which indicates a very high magnitude of loss within a decade. He made this revelation while delivering his speech at the graduation ceremony of the 13th batch of forestry and wildlife students of the Kafuta forestry training school held on 9 August 2018.
He said Gambians have a huge task to ensure that the trend is reversed to guaranty a healthy and productive ecosystem balance for the present and future generation. He said cognizant of the contribution of the forestry sector towards the socio-economic development, Forestry with support from MECCNAR continuously seeks to embark on capacity building to enhance the professional and institutional ability of the department to effectively and efficiently manage the country’s forest resources.
He said it is against this background and in line with the forest policy that “we are able to provide you with this important training. Now you must not only apply the skills and knowledge acquired but you are expected to share and assist those of your colleagues who are not fortunate to attend this program.”
According to Environment minister, the country is faced with immense challenges of deforestation, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change. He said it is therefore incumbent on all of us especially the graduating students, who are the young foresters and wildlife conservators to contribute significantly towards addressing and salvaging the dire situation faced by the country.
“You are only expected to provide professional and technical support in the conservation and management of biological resources to communities you will be serving, but you are also expected to be honest in all your dealings as you are representing the department and ministry. Therefore, you are strongly advised to desist from all illegal activities that may bring disrepute to your image, especially illegal exploitation of forest resources as it may have negative implication.”
Hon. Dibba said the country has a rich forest with a wide range of forest and woodland ecosystems which include gallery forest, closed woodland, open woodland, tree and shrub savanna, mangrove, riparian and fringing savanna ecosystems. The environment minister added that the forest cover constitutes 43% of the land area. These resources provide an important basis for the country economic and social development directly affecting the livelihoods of the majority of the populations, he said.