By Madiba Singhateh
Kawsu Jammeh a senior environmentalist at the department of parks and wildlife raised concerned on the Sahel wetland issue and other bio diversity activities in the country and beyond.
Sahel Wetland conservation is aimed at protecting and preserving areas where water exists at or near the Earth’s surface, such as swamps, marshes and bogs.
Wetlands cover at least six per cent of the Earth and have become a focal issue for conservation due to the ecosystem services they provide. More than three billion people, around half the world’s population, obtain their basic water needs from inland freshwater wetlands.
Speaking to Mr. Jammeh on wetland conservation, he said their main objective is to support implementation of the three Rio conventions in the country and make it national priority to impact the grass root level.
He said one of the priorities of Rio Convention is promoting sustainable land management, and bio diversity conservation and the third one is climate induced problem.
He added that looking at the three priorities some of the activities they are doing is cross cutting and trying to promote the restoration of Gambia’s land cover.
‘This restoration is about wetland restoration farmland and restoration of forest areas’. He said.
Mr. Jammeh further said that Baddibu is had hit by land degradation so if they are dealing with sustainable land management and they are not intervening in the North Bank that means their purpose is not genuine, that’s why they try to established a nursery in Jokadu, already parks and wild life is their main partners.
He added that they try to see what they can do to supplement or complement on the parks and wild life efforts on their goals of achieving the result.
Mr. Jammeh said they operate in protectorate areas, and now have a camp built by the department of parks and wild life in Jokadu, which have a nursery space bore hole, as an agreement from the parks and wild lives to supply seedlings to farmers, as in Kiang and Lower river region and the South bank region.
Further speaking on Sahel’s other intervention, Mr. Jammeh said right now they are operating in Kiang West as they have a bio-diversity and climate change education centre located in Dumbutu village.
He said the centre consist of 400 hectare sanctuary with a building and nursery with a fence of 100 square meters with lot of trees such as bamboo’s, and maligners but they are also planting mangroves along the Bintang Bolong estuary which is funded by the Nema Chasso project Department of Agriculture.
The Environmentalist said that they doing big planting as they want to make sure the wetland provide the services it used to provide through its genuine functions, as planting mangroves in the whole wetland will bring back life to the wetland.
‘If there is seed, food, habitat, and breeding place definitely aquatic mammals and fisheries will come back to the wetland and utilize it’. He said.
In conclusion regarding the dangers of degrading wetlands, Mr. Jammeh said degraded wetland is not possible to provide the adequate environment for fisheries and marine mammals for example Bintang Bolong in the 1970s was dammed in the Casamance end dammed in such way that people have access across the river from one area to another but this damning was not done appropriately, because salt water is not passing and is concentrating in one area, which is called hyper salinity and mangroves could not survive it.
He said mangroves do a kind of process where they consumed fresh water and remove all the salt.
He said if salt content is too much this process is not possible so mangroves mortality must happen, and that is what they called dieback and places that experience dieback in the past 30 years have no mangroves.
He said in the rainy season the water system got stabilized little and desalinate the salt content and regeneration happens.
But one month after rain all the fresh water is evaporated and all the mangroves will go back to mortality.