By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
Having successfully planted more than 10,000 trees across the country during the past year, Green-Up has launched its 1 Million trees initiative, a commitment to plant 1,000,000 trees within a year.
Green-Up is a youth-led national tree planting initiative implemented by Climate Watch-The Gambia, and Youth Action for Sustainable Development.
Held at the American Corner along Kairaba Avenue on Saturday 16th September 2017, the launching ceremony of Green-Up 1 Million attracted youth participants from all regions of the country including other passionate environmentalists.
Speaking at the launching, the Executive Director of Climate Watch and Coordinator of Green-Up 1 Million, Saikou Suwareh Jabai, highlighted the numerous achievements they have registered in planting more than 10,000 trees during the past 12 months and being able to successfully make the art of tree planting attractive to young people of the country.
He said Green Up is an action oriented and awareness raising initiative and that during the year under review, they have developed capacities of youths, women and children, on the importance of trees for economic use and as a tool to combat climate change. He said the initiative has an advocacy component that successfully engage government on emerging environmental issues like the illegal Monkey Park annihilation, the Barkoteh Dumpsite and the irresponsible mining taking place at Gunjur.
Jabai returned gratitude to all those who planted the Green-Up trees and other stakeholders including the Ministry of Environment and National Youth Council.
The Director of Green-Up, Kemo Fatty, spoke at length about the realities of climate change and how the menace is affecting our livelihood.
He said the success Green-Up 10,000 registered is as a result of their concern and commitment to make the environment a safe place for all to live.
Fatty, also the Advocacy Officer of Climate Watch- The Gambia, said Green-Up 1 Million is achievable and that they are even more determined to stand up for the environment. He said this new commitment to plant 1,000,000 will be attained through close collaborations with government and communities that bear the brunt of the effects of global warning.
The Program Manager of Climate Watch- The Gambia Omar Sambou, expressed optimism in the successful implementation of the 1 Million tree target before September 16th 2018; that over the last few years, the forest cover and number of trees in The Gambia have significantly reduced. This, he added, has resulted in the loss of biodiversity and severe land degradation due to soil erosion and loss of fertility. “Our areas which used to be very fertile are now barren and the overall agricultural productivity has declined dramatically which is pushing people deeper into poverty,” he said.
Sambou, who doubles as the Advocacy and Education Officer of Green-Up, said the pressure on the remaining forests and trees is high, as the proportion of people depending on them increases. Thus, he said, the intervention of Green-Up 1 Million is not just necessary but timely as well.
Babucarr Kebbeh of the National Youth Council said their institution is proud to be associated with the achievements Green-Up has registered and said the council will continue to endorse the initiative and plant more trees to keep one of the pledges made by council.
He spoke about the need for young people to compliment government’s efforts and equally hold them accountable at all times.
Other speakers included Lamin Jassey of the Gunjur Environment Group, Momodou Edirisa Njie of GYIN Gambia and Adama Bah, a passionate environmentalist