Gambia: Reforestation Will Help to Curb Desertification Says Forestry Director

The acting director of the Department of Forestry has underscored that more reforestation efforts through tree planting will help fight against desertification that is 'threatening the country.'

Sarjo Fatajo was speaking recently during a massive tree planting exercise organised by his Department and the youths of Tumana District in the Upper River Region. The exercise saw the foresters and the youths plant over 6000 different species of trees. The reforestation exercise was designed, among other things, to restore lost trees in the region's forests, and also to raise public awareness on the importance of protecting the forest from deforestation.

Fatajo said the exercise is in line with their annual national programme, which started in 1978. He stated that the rationale behind the national tree planting exercise is to raise the awareness of the local communities on how to plant trees, the sustainability of the trees and its importance. He lamented that the main constraint derailing the attainment of the objectives of the programme since its inception, has been the lack of protection to the trees planted. Given this undesirable circumstance, Fatajo said they have introduced new strategies to ensure that the trees that are planted, are protected especially by the communities.

He explained that the trees that they were planting are very vital for the communities of the area, and therefore urged them to make best use of them, so as to reap their benefits in future. He said: "As far as we depend on the forest cover for different purposes, if we remove trees, it is paramount that we restore them to ensure that we have a good forest cover in The Gambia. Cutting down our forest without restoring them is leading us to limited rain fall, and so it is incumbent on every citizen of the country to take advantage of this season to engage in reforestation by planting more trees."

The acting Forestry director concluded by commending the community of the area for their foresight in taking great care of our forest cover.

Deputising for the governor of Upper River Region, the chairman of Basse Area Council, Omar Sompo Ceesay, underscored the importance of tree planting, while describing the intervention of the Department of Forestry as timely. He opined that the importance of forest in national development cannot be overestimated, thus stressing the need for its judicious and sustainable utilisation. While urging the youth of Tumana District to take great care of the trees planted to ensure that the objective is achieved, Ceesay stressed that all hands must be on deck in preserving the country's natural resources.

The regional Forestry officer in URR, Babanding Sanyang, for his part, commended the youth of the area for turning out in theirnumbers to embark on such a worthwhile crusade, stressing that the country's young people have an active role to play in preserving the forest cover. He asserted that reforestation crusade has since been a traditional activity for their department, given the fact that so much damage has been done to the forest and environment. He lamented that if deforestation is not halted, "we will have shortage of trees in the country." He therefore challenged the youths to protect the trees planted.

Speaking on behalf of the youths after the exercise, the district youth mobiliser, Mawdo Susso, who doubles as the acting regional youth mobiliser, thanked the Forestry department for making the protection of the forest cover a top development agenda, and assured the authorities that the trees planted in the area will be protected.

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