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Environment Minister launches 2016 National Tree Planting Exercise

Aug 16, 2016, 10:13 AM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

The Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resource, Pa Ousman Jarju, over the weekend launched the 2016 National Tree Planting Exercise at the Brikama Kabafita forest station.

In delivering a statement at the end of a massive tree-planting exercise, the Environment Minister thanked the Gambia government for coming up with the noble initiative to plant a million trees annually.

The objective of the initiative is to engage everyone in The Gambia to plant tress during this time of the year, as a measure to replace the lost trees in and outside the forests.

He said the rate of loss of trees and their diversity in the country is due to a combination of factors - including intense and frequent bushfires, illegal logging, and change of forest to other land uses, climate change among others – and has become a great concern to all Gambians and even non-Gambians.

“Therefore, to offset this situation, massive replacement of the lost trees is necessary, and national tree-planting provides the opportunity to demonstrate to the whole world our commitment to forest restoration and protection.”

It also offers the space to join in the crusade to fight against deforestation and land degradation, and loss of biodiversity in the country, Minister Jarju further stated.

According to the Environment minister, forest and trees outside forests contribute to food security and household energy supply for more than a billion of the world’s population.

Forest resources are the backbone of numerous environmental services, which may be a matter of vital importance to the welfare of a country and the whole world, he said.

“I, therefore, implore upon communities, particularly those in the rural areas, to further embrace the participatory forest management approach of the Department of Forestry, so that more forests are brought under sustainable management to provide the goods and services needed for enhancement of the livelihood of forest-dependent communities.

“The Department of Forestry is well prepared this year, and has made all necessary arrangements for the tree-planting exercise across the country.

“It has started supporting its regional offices with some planting materials, as supplement to the stocks already in the central forestry nurseries in the regions,” he announced.

The regional forestry offices are expected to work closely with all the partners, including local communities, schools, CBOs and NGOs and to render all necessary technical support for a smooth and successful conduct of this year’s tree planting, he added.

The environment minister also reminded everyone that tree-planting itself is one thing, but another important thing is to take proper care of the young plants to ensure their survival by protecting them against fires, grazing by animals and all other forms of destruction, particularly during the dry season.

He, therefore, urged every one that has planted or is planning to plant trees to care for the plants in order to increase their chance of survival to maturity.

Also speaking on the occasion was the deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Illo Jallow, spoke at length on the importance of forest.

“This is one way of restoring the forest cover, as well as protecting the environment”.

He described the launching as very timely, in the sense that people are in the rainy season.

“We will continue to embark on massive tree-planting exercise across the country, as far as the ministry of Environment is concerned,” DPS Jallow said.

 He also spoke about the need for a collective effort and teamwork from the ministry to the department and regional forest offices and to the community, and to come up with many tree-planting exercises to regain the lost forest cover.