Gambia: CRR Communities Urged to Protect the Forest Against Bushfire

Crr — The Regional Forestry officer for Central River Region (CRR) south, Alhagie Sanyang, urged the people of CRR to protect the forest against bushfire. According to him, frequent bushfires destroy a significant portion of the dry biomass and contribute equally to the problems in forest resource management.

Sanyang made these remarks on Tuesday in an interview with the Daily Observer CRR correspondent. He reminded that the dry season is fast approaching and called for concerted efforts in the control and prevention of the forest against bushfires and other illegal exploitation.

In 1994, he revealed, it is estimated that approximately 90-95 percent of all combustible biomass material went up in flames. Sanyang pointed out that bushfires were not only damaging agricultural products but trees as well and more severely, to the young tree regeneration. He said that until bushfires are brought under control, damage to available woodland would lead to less and less forest products, particularly fuel wood.

He reiterated that there has been a steady increase in the demand for forest (wood and non wood) products as a result of increased human population. "The majority of rural dwellers depend on the forest as a cheap source of construction material and the natural forests provide about 80-85 percent of the primary domestic energy for more than 84 percent of the total population in the form of fuel wood," Sanyang disclosed.

He informed that other forest products collected include poles, fence posts, timber for construction, leaves, roots, fruits among others, for different domestic functions. He added that more wood is consumed than the forest can replace. According to the CRR forestry officer, the only way to stop the menace of bushfires and other illegal exploitation of the forest is to improve community participation in the prevention and control of the forest by creating fire belts.

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