By Madiba Singhateh
The Minister of the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, Mr Lamin Dibba told forestry stakeholders that he will look into their proposal not to de-reserve Salagi Forest Park.
He said so during a meeting with the All Forestry Platform to discuss Salagi Forest Park and other environmental issues at his ministry on Wednesday 28th August 2019.
As part of the meeting, the platform read an action plan they agreed among themselves. Part of it was that ‘there should be No de-reserving of Salagi Forest Park and any other gazetted forest area for non-environmental purposes.
In response to their request, after dismissing an allegation that the forest park had been sold, the minister promised to consider the request of the All Forestry Platform not to de-reserve 1000 metres by 80 metres of the forest park.
“It is true we are the ones who wrote the letter but we will look into your consideration of not de-reserving the forest,” he said.
Mr. Dibba further thanked the group for policing activities in the forest.
On forest encroachment, he said, it is true that some forest staff are not working accordingly and their work is still lacking in monitoring forest activities.
He said in the new regulations of the 2018 Forest Act, no Alkalo or chief or Governor has any right to tell people to fell logs or trees.
He said everybody knows the importance of rain in The Gambia and it starts in June but this year it is late and has started just recently.
“This happens because of the lack of trees in the country, but do the people realise that the trees they are cutting will affect their lives?” he asked.
In explaining what led to their approval to de-reserve the forest, the minister said lack of space prompted them to use Salagi. Work on the 50-million-dollar China sponsored OIC conference hall had reached a level that the heavy equipment could not fit in the site, he said; adding that they had to look at the advantages and disadvantages of de-reserving the park.
The minister was also vocal on issues raised by the platform such as the immediate ban of timber export/re-export, gravel, and sand mining in forest and swamp lands concurring that these should be stopped to protect the forest and rice production respectively; that forests should be speedily handed over to local communities in the context of community forest management.
He is expected to have further discussion with the platform.