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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Gambia Condemn Bush Fire, Logging In a Bid to Combat Desertification and Drought

Minister Jatto Sillah
In their bid to combat deforestation, desertification and drought, The Gambia government through the minister of Forestry is not taking lightly engagement of people engage in logging and causing bush fire.
Government has shown enough demonstration in the past years and months, which shows their commitment in preserving the land and not to fall on the wrong trap of bad effects like deforestation, which causes desertification and can result to drought.
Desertification is the gradual transformation of habitable land into deserts; usually caused by climate change or by destructive use of the land by its own people. Though Gambia has not been deeply affected, but plans are on the way to avoid it in the long run.
Mr. Jatto Sillah minister of Forestry and the Environment has recently decried the high rate of bushfires in rural Gambia; and renewed calls for the citizenry to embrace forestation with a view to enhancing and protecting the country’s forest cover to guarantee “good living”. Honorable Sillah Sillah, after returning from a nationwide tour of the provinces recently joined scores of stakeholders in a three day tree planting exercise, demonstrating his willingness in maintaining the land in order to avoid drought in the feature.
Speaking to journalists at the state house recently, the minister expressed disappointment with bush fires that continue to occur in the country.
“Gambians, we have to plant trees. I just returned from the provinces, and I have to express a little bit of disappointment because we still have a lot of bush fires that occurred in the field, even though it is better than the previous years,” he said.
According to him, if Gambians really want to enjoy a good livelihood, there is the unquestionable need to undertake tree planting as much as possible to avoid negative effects of desertification and drought in the country.
He also called on the people to embrace afforestation so as to enhance and protect the country’s forest cover.
“We have to plant trees. The trees that we planted last year are over one million as requested, but we have not done the assessment yet to know the survival rate, which we will give in due course,” he said, adding that what they did last year was to plant trees in enclosures so that the trees can survive.
The Director of Forestry, Abdoulie Sanneh, “Unless we are able to change our attitude, it will be hard to achieve the goals,”
Noting that the government cannot do it alone, Sanneh called on the communities to complement government’s efforts in the sustainable management of the country’s forest cover.

The government has made series of arrests to those people who decide to invade the bush and forest to engage in logging, which can later turn in to bad effects of deforestation, desertification and drought if it continues.
For every negative action, somebody must pay for it, it was carried by The Point Newspaper recently that 14 people from Busura village and environs in the Kombo Central district including the Alkalo of Busura were arrested for illegal logging, and later took to Brikama Police Station for interrogation.
Names of suspects were Omar Faye, Alkalo of Busura, Amadou Jadama, Momodou Jallow, Bubacarr Fatty, Phillip Mallou, Lamin Sanneh, Alfusainey Jallow, Abdoulie Trawally, Harry Ndekky, Abino Malou, Alieu Bah, Saikou Jobe, Abdoulie Jadama, and Dembo Kolley.
They are alleged to have used two vehicles with registration numbers URD 2144D, a four -passenger taxi and BJL 8457, a Mercedes Benz truck to transport the illegal logged timbers. The vehicles were impounded by the police in Brikama.
The Director of Forestry, Abdoulie Sanneh, confirmed the arrest and detention of the suspected forest intruders.
He said the accused persons were intercepted with a truck and taxi loaded with logs of timber.
Director Sanneh expressed disappointment about the act, noting that with all the public sensitization efforts being made by the ministry, people are still paying a deaf ear to call to preserve the country’s forest cover.
“This is sabotage to the whole country,” he stated.
Sanneh revealed every person found guilty of such an offence that can lead to land degradation; he or she will face the consequences.

The Gambia and Desertification
The Gambia’s environmental concerns include deforestation, desertification, and water pollution. Deforestation is the most serious problem, with slash-and-burn agriculture the principal cause. In the 1950s, 34,000 hectares (84,000 acres) were set aside as forest parks, but by 1972, 11% of these reserves had been totally cleared. As of 2001, only 2% of the total land area is protected.

 During 1981–85, deforestation averaged 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) per year. Only 9% of the forests in The Gambia have survived the expansion of agricultural land and the use of trees for fuel. A 30% decrease in rainfall over the last 30 years has increased the rate of desertification for The Gambia’s agricultural lands. Water pollution is a significant problem due to lack of adequate sanitation facilities. Impure water is responsible for life-threatening diseases that contribute to high infant mortality rates.
 The Gambia has 3 cubic kilometers of renewable water resources with 91% used for farming activity. Only about 53% of the people in rural areas have pure drinking water. As of 1994, The Gambia’s wildlife was threatened by changes in habitat and poaching. As of 2001, 4 of the nation’s 117 mammal species and 1 in a total of 280 bird species were threatened. One type of reptile was also endangered. Threatened species include the African slender-snouted crocodile and the West African manatee.
Author: Abdoulie Nget

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