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Forestry officials discuss burning issues with rural communities

Apr 21, 2011, 2:10 PM | Article By: Abdoulie Nyockeh

Officials of the Ministry of Forestry and Environment led by its director, Abdoulie Sanneh, recent met with district authorities in the Central and Upper River Regions.

The meetings formed part of their nationwide tour.

Speaking at the Governor’s Bantaba in Janjangbureh, Governor Ganyi Touray said the communities of CRR are doing everything possible to protect the forest cover.

He said the regional forestry officer has been participating in many activities for the realisation of the objectives of protecting the forest.

Governor Touray said there is need for close collaboration in the prevention and maintainace of the forest.

He applauded the regional chiefs for their participation in the protection of forest cover, adding that the visit of the top forestry officials, who had shown great concern for the country’s forest cover, was a step in the right direction.

For his part, the chief of Lower Fulladu, Mamadou L. Baldeh, described the meeting as timely in the sense it was an opportunity for the community to discuss the forestry personnel issues that “are directly affecting” their lives.

He said the agenda of the meeting was well over due “as far as forestry is concerned”.

He said illegal felling of trees has become a chronic disease in The Gambia, especially using chain saw.

“The best way to restore our forest cover is to ban chain saw in this country,” he said, adding that for him as the Chief of Lower Fulladu he wouldn’t want to hear any noise of chain saw in his district.

Also, the Chief of Niamina West Yerro Bah expressed similar sentiments while calling for the ban of chain saw and forestry laws to be enforced to the letter.

“There should be no compromise on the destruction of our forest,” he said, adding that anyone found wanting should be taken to court and suggesting that a heavy fine should be imposed on the individual.

Mamadou L. Jarra, deputy director of Prison in Janjangbureh, described the meeting as very important looking at the three agenda on the illegal felling of trees, usage of chain saw, and fire disaster, which are all causes for concern.

“There is need for people to sacrifice in the protection of our forest and stop saying without mobility their participation in the protection of our forest will be difficult which was not existing in the past year,” he said, adding: “People need to restore our culture.”

Speaking in URR, Governor Omar Khan called on chiefs in the region to punish anyone found wanting.

Fire outbreaks should be one of their major concerns, he said, while encouraging alkalos to sensitize their villagers on preventing fire outbreak.

He then said to ban chain saw is a welcomed move not only in URR but also in the whole country as far as the forest is concerned.

In his remarks, the director of forestry thanked the district authority for their concern while assuring them that it will be addressed as soon as possible.

The Director of Forestry, Abdoulie Sanneh, told the district authorities and the various stakeholders that his tour was purposely meant to meet with them and discuss three agenda , namely illegal felling of trees , usage of chain saw and fire disaster.

Mr Sanneh expressed delight over the warm welcome accorded him in all the regions across the country including CRR and URR.

“The response was a clear indication of their high sense of commitment and concern in the protection of our forest cover,” he said.

Director Sanneh commended the district authorities, regional governor, security personnel, forestry regional officer, and the community for their collective participation in the protection of the country’s forest for the past years.

The forestry officials alone cannot do it all, he says and therefore calls for the participation of all.

 Mr Sanneh further advised the district authorities to prosecute anyone found destroying the forest.

“All what the forestry department need is to see that chain saw is banned in this country, so that people can restore our forest cover,” he said, adding that there should be no compromise for anyone found engaged in dubious act in the forest.

He also called on the security to intervene, saying the active participation in curbing the menace “is very important as this is a collective responsibility”.

Speaking at the various meetings, Mr Sarjor Fatajor, principal forestry officer at the department of forestry, thanked the district authority for their large turnout to the meeting, saying “it shows that they have great concern for this country”.

He assured them that the issues raised during the meetings “will be taken into consideration”.