By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister of Forestry and the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Lamin Dibba, has expressed fear about the current situation of the country’s forest and said the current rate of deforestation and land degradation is alarming, as revealed by the last National Forest Resource Assessment, 2010. Dibba disclosed this information during the graduation ceremony of the 13th batch of Forestry and Wildlife students at the Kafuta Forestry Training School.
Dibba added that the level of forest cover loss is at 97,000 hectares, indicating a very high magnitude of loss within a decade; that Gambians have a huge task of ensuring that the trend is reversed, to guarantee a healthy and productive ecosystem balance, for present and future generations to come; that cognizant of the contribution of the forestry sector towards socio-economic development, with support from MECCNAR, the department’s professional and institutional capacity to effectively and efficiently manage the country’s forest resources, is enhanced.
“It is against this background and in line with the forest policy act, 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 your colleagues, who are not fortunate to attend this program,” he said.
According to Environment Minister Dibba, the country is faced with immense challenges of deforestation, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change, to address; that it is incumbent on the citizenry, especially the graduates who are the young foresters and wildlife conservators, to contribute significantly towards addressing and salvaging the dire situation faced by the country; that they are not only expected to provide professional and technical support in the conservation and management of natural resources to communities, but are also expected to be honest in their dealings as they are representatives of the Department and Ministry.
Minister Dibba said the Gambia is endowed with a wide range of forest and woodland ecosystems which include gallery forest, closed and open woodlands, trees and shrub savanna, mangrove, riparian and fringing savanna ecosystems; that the country’s forest cover, constitute 43% of her land area and that the country’s resources provide an important basis for economic and social development, directly affecting the livelihood of the majority of the populations.