By Juldeh Njie
The Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources Lamin B Dibba together with other officials has recently planted over 1, 000 seedlings at the launching of the 2017 national tree planting exercise at Monkey Park in Bijilo
The exercise was funded by the department of forestry in collaboration with Mediterranean Shipping Company geared towards restoration of the degraded sites of the forest park and increasing diversity of species.
The environment minister said the government of the Gambia has taken bold initiatives to restore degraded sites annually as a response to combat deforestation and land degradation in the Gambia.
“The objective of this important initiative is to engage everyone in the Gambia to plant trees during the rainy season as a measure to replace the lost trees in and outside our forests. The rate of loss of trees and their diversity in the country, as revealed by the National Forest Assessment in 2009/10, has been quite alarming and has been a concern to all nature lovers,” Dibba added.
He said in order to mitigate the situation, massive replacements are necessary and national tree planting is a response to this demand.
Minister Dibba urged the gathering to reflect on the urgent need to plant more trees to restore the huge areas of degraded forests in the country which is due to a combination of factors, including intense and frequent bushfires, illegal cutting down of trees, change of forests to other land uses, drought.
He implored the rural communities to further embrace the Participatory Forest Management Approach of the department of forestry so that more forests are brought under sustainable management.
Dibba said inasmuch as tree planting is welcomed it is important to remind everyone that planting is one thing but another most important thing is to care for the planted seedlings to ensure their survival by protecting them against fires, grazing and all other forms of destruction, particularly during the dry season.
Speaking earlier, director of forestry Muhammed Jaiteh said: “This is one of the sites that have been gazetted since 1953 and it is the only forest park within the Greater Banjul Area. The first eco-tourism site was established since 1990 with the help of the Germans, it is used not only for forest products but strictly for service production to ensure that the product marketing of the tourism area is been diversified instead of only coming to see the beaches but to also come and see the wild life.”
He said this is the only park in the Gambia where western guinea savanna can be found. “Most of the species that are in existence is of great importance to the department of forestry, to the ministry and the government. People come here for scientific and educational research, some come to study birds and reptiles but due to man’s interference most of these species have been destroyed,” he noted.
He applauded the ministry for ensuring that the park is being restored and implored the foresters to make sure that the planted trees are well kept and taken care of.