Gambia: Forestry Director Says Thousands of Hectares of Forest Transferred to Communities

The Director of Forestry Muhammed Jaiteh said over 40,000 hectares of forest has been transferred to communities for them to manage.

Mr. Jaiteh made these revelations during the opening ceremony of the second edition of National Forest Trade Fair which brought together different people who work on forest products that are environment friendly and adaptive to the country's eco-system.

Mr. Jaiteh said they have 220 communities that were awarded certificate of ownership of both their forest and the land itself and they are presently working with twenty seven communities by assisting them in the management of their forest parks; that these committees and their co-management partners represent more than 533 rural communities and an area of more than 40,000 hectares of community forest and forest parks. He said the enterprise emerged from interest groups around specific forest products which is the business arm of the community forest committee or their co-management partners.

"Currently, there are 96 forest based enterprises around forest products and these are non-timber producers who manage their own business enterprises", he said.

Hatab Camara, the Marketing and Development Officer of the Department said Community Forestry is a management undertaken by local communities on customary lands identified by them; that those who have adjacent forests lands and are willing to co-manage such areas as a Community Forest have to send letters of interest to the Department who will visit and talk to the people concerned on how to manage the area before the state takes ownership.

"The objective is to enhance local people to be able to manage their resources and to assist rural communities on traditional land use systems", Camara said; that the aim is for communities to be able to enhance their livelihoods through improved management of their natural resources which belongs to them.

The Trade Fair was partnered by the FAO, UNDP and others.

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