Mar 22, 2010, 2:25 PM
Hundreds of stakeholders Saturday gathered at State House in Banjul, where they embarked on a massive tree planting exercise.
Organised by the Association of the Wood Re-Exporters and Forest Users in The Gambia in conjunction with the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment, the exercise, which brought together the minister of Forestry, Director of Forestry, Secretary to Cabinet and State Guard Commander, among others, saw the planting of at least 60 palm trees at State House grounds.
Speaking to journalists on the occasion, the minister of Forestry, Jatto Sillah, expressed disappointment with bush fires that continue to occur in the country.
“Gambians, we have to plant trees. I just returned from the provinces, and I have to express a little bit of disappointment because we still have a lot of bush fires that occurred in the field, even though it is better than the previous years,” he said.
According to him, if Gambians really want to enjoy a good livelihood, there is the unquestionable need to undertake tree planting as much as possible.
While decrying the high rate of bushfires in rural Gambia, the Forestry minister called on the citizenry to plant varieties of trees, be it for food, decoration or forest use.
He also called on the people to embrace afforestation so as to enhance and protect the country’s forest cover.
“We have to plant trees. The trees that we planted last year are over one million as requested by His Excellency, but we have not done the assessment yet to know the survival rate, which we will give in due course,” he said, adding that what they did last year was to plant trees in enclosures so that the trees can survive.
He commended President Jammeh, noting that it was his idea to plant palm trees at the said area. “Palm trees are part of our culture and our heritage, particularly when you talk about Gambian landscape. These are indigenous to Gambia,” he stated.
The Director of Forestry, Abdoulie Sanneh, in his speech, underscored the significance of the exercise, noting that the participation of the State Guards is an indication of their commitment towards ensuring that we have a healthy forest.
While calling on Gambians to change their attitude towards bushfires, Director Sanneh stated that his department has done a lot of sensitization over the years.
“Unless we are able to change our attitude, it will be hard to achieve the goals,” he added.
Noting that the government cannot do it alone, Sanneh called on the communities to complement government’s efforts in the sustainable management of the country’s forest cover.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Kawsu Camara, Secretary to the Cabinet, urged the citizenry to embrace afforestation.
“A green environment can contribute towards reducing the stress level of people who have stress,” he added.
“As we cut the trees down for our human consumption, we need to plant them so that we can have a sustainable level of keeping the forest,” Camara stated.
Brigadier General Alhaji Martin, Officer Commanding State Guard Battalion, also spoke at the ceremony and underscored the importance of the exercise.