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Environmental Education Officer Talks on Bush Fires

Mar 3, 2009, 4:44 AM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

Mr Kawsu Jammeh the POWPA (Program of Work for Protected Areas) coordinator and focal point who also doubles as the environmental education officer under the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management has also added his voice to the fight against bush fires. Mr Jammeh made this revelation, as a result of the recent bush fire at NiumiNational Park, which burned almost half of the park, in an exclusive interview recently.

According to Mr Jammeh, bush fires have a huge, negative impact but the fire itself has a positive impact as well. Noting that bush fires only degrades the forest, because when bush fires occur all day grasses, young trees, dry woods and other organisms get burned and other wild animals lose their habitat.

When asked about the relationship between the forestry department and Department of Parks and Wildlife Management; Mr Jammeh maintained that, the two institutions are looking at the same resources. For wildlife Mr Jammeh said we are regulating the wise use of the resources i.e. people can use the resources sustainably so that it is available in the long term. And for forestry Mr Jammeh posited that they are in charge of marketing the forestry resources.

Mr Jammeh further revealed that it has been recommended in the climate change document that we need to use fire as a conservation tool "early burning". Mr Jammeh also revealed that in the area of benefit and profit sharing, it is unfortunate that some areas are still not implementing it and that a village should be responsible for all the resources in their territories as a matter of development. "We need these resources we cannot do without them but a policy to guide us to this early burning would be of great important," he added.

For his part Mr Lamin Drammeh warden of Niumi National Parks, spoke at length on the importance of protecting the parks from all forms of exploitation especially bush fires.

According to Mr Drammeh, there used to be a fire belt around the parks supported by the World Food Programme and it used to be an effective way of controlling bush fires and preventing them from entering the parks.

"When bush fires occur everybody tends to wait for the foresters to come and put it out, instead of taking part in putting the fires out themselves," he added.

Since the RIO meeting in 1997 management of protected areas has shifted from using powers and punishment to community participation and community sharing.