Stakeholders in forestry and conservation have reinforced the call for the protection of the country's forest cover, with a view to avoid its further depletion.
The call was made on Monday at the Child Fund Sibanor office during the second consultative meeting of the Kombo Foni Forestry Association (KOMFORA), in partnership with the community forest stakeholders in the area.
The meeting that was part of the Association's efforts in protecting the forest cover, was aimed at sensitising the communities on mangrove rehabilitation programme.
Speaking at the meeting, the director of the World Wide Fund (WWF), Alhagie Manjang, said the forum would avail the beneficiaries the opportunity to work in partnership with their counterparts to improve the forest cover.
He assured that WWF as a partner will always endeavour to work with KOMFFORA to promote the protection of the forests.
"WWF has a membership of over 100 organisations globally that are all focusing on enhancing development," he informed, adding that the WWF has the objective of raising funds for governments for a proper implementation of projects.
Manjang further opined that protecting the environment means protecting the communities. He therefore tasked the beneficiaries to utilise the knowledge they would gain from the meeting, as well as to disseminate the information to others in their respective communities.
The chief of Foni Bintang Karanai, Alfusainey Jarju, told participants to collectively fight against the wanton destruction of the forest cover, emphasising that in the absence of proper forest management, there would be no meaningful development.
The KOMFORA project coordinator, Seku Janko, indicated the Association's strong commitment to the protection of the environment. He reminded that due to KOMFFORA's marked achievements in supporting the participatory community forest management, it has been nominated by the United Nations Global Environment Fund (GEF) Steering Committee to implement the rehabilitation of mangrove forest in West Coast Region (WCR).
The rehabilitation of the mangrove forest, he explained, was designed by KOMFFORA to halt the rapid deforestation of the mangroves and promote forest reserves in the region.
"Over the past 30 years, the mangrove forests in the coastal regions of The Gambia have experienced a rapid deforestation as a result of climate change, the activities of timber industry and oyster harvesting, thus damaging the biodiversity without prior consideration for the future generation," he lamented.