Feb 27, 2014, 10:35 AM
Members of the International Visitors Leadership Programme Alumni (IVLP) The Gambia have reiterated their call for more people to volunteer to join the work of preserving and protecting the environment.
The IVLP members were speaking at the weekend during a tree planting exercise and donation of seedlings to the reserve as part of their activities promoting environmental volunteerism with school children held at Abuko Nature Reserve.
Abdoulie Sawo, on behalf of the director of Parks and Wildlife Management, said the department was pleased to be associated with the IVLP program.
He added that Abuko Nature Reserve is the first protected area in The Gambia and has also served as the first attraction site for tourism in the country.
Mr Sawo said: “As you may all be aware, trees play a significant part in reducing erosion and moderating the climate. They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store large quantities of carbon in their tissues while releasing the oxygen that we the human and animals breathe in, hence the slogan ‘no trees no life’.
“Trees and forests provide a habitat for many species of animals and plants. Trees provide shade and shelter, medicine, timber for construction, fuel for cooking and fruit for food as well as having many other uses.”
According to him, as a result of human population increase, forests are shrinking as trees are cleared to increase the amount of land available for agriculture, human settlement among others.
This is happening, he noted, when it is estimated that 72% of the population is directly engaged in agricultural activities, including extensive cropping, massive clearing and deforestation.
He said the conservation of the planetary resources on which we depend to meet basic needs and services is of great concern since the tree stand is seriously declining (deforestation rate is 6% per year) resulting to global warming and climate change that contributes to sea level rise, flooding, erosion among others.
According to the 2004 energy balance report, most important energy resource in The Gambia is fuel wood representing about 80% of the total primary energy needs of the country being extracted from the forest resources, he explained.
The IVLP project, Sawo noted, is complementing government’s effort in protecting the country’s environment and will contribute towards increasing participation and instilling responsibility in the children.
IVLP Alumni Association chairman Omar Jallow explained that the association was formed to bring about greater contact and understanding between the people of The Gambia and those of the United States of America through cultural and other exchanges.
IVLP, OJ said, is the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ (ECA) premier professional exchange program, adding that since 1940, nearly 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP.
“The program seeks to build mutual understanding between the U.S. and other nations through short-term visits to the United States. These visits provide an opportunity for International Visitors to meet and confer with their professional counterparts, gain a greater understanding of U.S. society and experience American culture firsthand,” OJ said.
Participants of IVLP, OJ continued, are current and emerging leaders in government, journalism, politics, education, business and trade, nongovernmental organizations, student groups, and other various fields.
Participants of IVLP programme are introduced to American federalism and how the nation’s history and culture are reflected in the decentralized nature of decision-making.
They often take part in lectures, round-table discussions, and professional site-visits and conferences, along the way exchanging and networking with professional counterparts from both the public and private sectors.