May 31, 2010, 1:51 PM
The Department of Forestry, in collaboration with various stakeholders recently held a day-long validation forum to review the Forestry Act, at the Baoba Lodge in Kololi.
In his welcoming remarks, Mr. Mohammad Jaiteh who is currently overseeing the Department of Forestry said the validation of the forestry legislation marks yet another milestone in the history of the Department of Forestry. He noted that in a drive to sustainably manage the country's forest resource under its purview, the Department of Forestry has put in place all technical requirements and policy frameworks in order to attain her goals.
He noted that the document is a legal requirement for the department as a tool in implementing and achieving its policy objective, thus prompting the department to develop the Gambia Forest Management Concept, which calls for the forest depended communities to collaborate in the management of the vital forest resources for sustainable protection and utilisation.
According to him, the concept gave birth to the participatory forest management approach, which is in line with government's strive to decentralise and divulge most responsibilities at the grassroots level.
He noted that the Forestry Act would go a long way towards assisting the Department of Forestry to adapt to the new orientation of sustainable management as defined in the Gambia Forest Management Concept and the forestry policy.
In his opening statement, Mr. Ebrima Darboe, the Senior Assistant Secretary at the Ministry of Forestry and Environment noted that the review of the Act was necessary because a great deal of new developments have taken place in the forestry sector, both within and outside the country. He said these changes needed to be addressed and reflected into the revised Forestry Act.
According to him, private sector participation in forestry management has been realised to be lacking behind, despite the numerous existing opportunities within the forest and the environment sector. He added that the revision of the Forestry Act will timely spell out clearly the procedures of difference forest management option and system, in particular ownership of natural forest and plantation to provide an enabling environment in the forestry sector.
Mr. Darboe highlighted that a lot of significant improvements have taken place in the development of the draft Forestry Act, noting that The Gambia is a signatory to three very important United Nations international conventions. These conventions, he added, will be meaningless if people failed to observe them by not abiding to the basic laws and principles in nature convention.