Mr Abdoulie Danso, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Department of State for Forestry and the Environment, has underscored government's commitment to the conservation and restoration of natural habitats and their biodiversity to provide direct benefits to local communities around protected areas.
Mr. Danso made these remarks in a one-day forum on Gambia Biosphere Initiative in Niumi - Jokadou districts held at Atlantic Hotel in Banjul recently. According to him, the importance of this technical meeting is to elaborate and discuss pertinent issues and identify critical issues related to the designation of the proposed Niumi - Jokadou biosphere reserve, which ultimately will result into the creation of transboundry biosphere reserve between the Gambia and Senegal.
He added that the Gambia has already undertaken the assessment of the country's natural and biological resources to gather and analyze biological and socio- economic data to provide the bench mark for defining strategic, national strategies and action plans related to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. He noted that there is a need for concrete yet decisive actions to halt the unprecedented loss of the country's remaining biological and natural resources, thus creating a biosphere reserve would contribute significantly towards this. He further pointed out that revised bio-diversity wildlife act addressed key policy gaps as it relates to community involvement and empowerment in the management of the country's biodiversity/wildlife resources.
DPS Danso further disclosed that with regards to the proposed transboundry biosphere protected areas (Niumi -the Gambia and Delta du Saloum in of Senegal), the Gambia has signed the protocol agreement with Senegal for the protection and management of the Nuimi and Saloum.
For his part Mr Aboubakry Kane, International Union for Conservation Natural resources (ICUN) project coordinator in Senegal revealed that the project started in 2005 with the aim to support the two countries to have a transboundry biosphere reserve. According to him, Gambia and Senegal share the same resources and environmental problems, and there is a need to discuss and agreed on a common way to manage the resources. He added that in the rural areas of Senegal the larger communities depend on natural resources for their consumption and income generating activities." In order to improve their livelihood, the communities within the areas are capacitized to use the right tools and methods to sustainable use the resources, so that they can be available in the future" he added
Mr Alhagie Manjang, Deputy Director, Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, said the biosphere initiative under the human and biosphere UNESCO and Gambia is attempting to designate Nuimi and Jokadou as the first biosphere reserve in the Gambia. According to him, this is against the background of an existence agreement between the two countries, which relates to the management of Nuimi and Saloum ecological component. He added that in 2001 Gambia and Senegal has signed Jinack protocol agreement and Senegal has gone ahead already in designate their part of border as biosphere. And the Gambia is following steps in order to have its own biosphere reserve and the two biosphere reserves will together constitute transboundry biosphere reserve, noting that the biosphere concept nurses the conservation and sustainable development and improve the livelihood for the people living in those areas.