The Independent (Banjul)

20 March 2006

Gambia: Forestry Executive Frowns Deforestation

Banjul — The head of Technical Unit of Forestry Department, Kebba N. Sonko has bitterly condemned the massive depletion of The Gambia's forest cover.

In an interview, Sonko wondered why some poor rural in the communities continue to destroy the forest cover for personal reasons.

Mr. Sonko, who doubles as the head of forestry school in Kafuta, the forestry policy mandated citizens to be forest-friendly. He made reference to the 1998 forestry act and 2000 regulations.

"These restrict communities to illegally cut down trees for charcoal or any other purposes," he said.

Mr. Sonko condemned illegal sand mining, palm wine tapping and dumping in forest parks. "No unauthorized entry into forest parks should be allowed, let alone cutting down of virgin trees. I think communities should be adequately sensitized about proper management of the forest.

By that bush fires and depletion of the forest would be taken care of.

Forestry staff should be well trained so that they collaborate with other stakeholders - politicians, chiefs and village heads - to sensitize communities," he said, while calling on the government to clamp down on destroyers of the forest, which addresses the needs of a country.

In Sonko's view, capacity building should be the first priority of forestry department.

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