Jan 4, 2011, 1:08 PM
The local authorities in the Kombs recently concluded a two-day sensitisation session on the new Forestry Policy. The participants included the chiefs of Kombo East, Kombo Central and Kombo South as well as the paramount chief of the Gambia.
In attendance were the various alkalos in the Kombos. The forum was organised by the Department of Forestry and funded by the FAO, and was held at the regional education office in Brikama.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Director of Natural Resource Consulting Gambia Limited, Kanimang Camara, and a facilitator said the purpose of gathering the local authorities was to sensitise them on the provisions of the 2010-2019 new Forestry Policy.
He said that the objective of the new policy is to put as much forest cover under sustainable management as possible.
According to Mr. Camara, the new policy is targeting 200,000 hectares to be given back to the community as community forests. He added that the new policy seeks to promote institutional development, that is, to strengthen the capacity of the key stakeholders on forest resource management.
"The important key provision of the policy is the policy provision for decentralisation in the sense that the policy foresees that all forests will be handed over to various municipalities and local government areas," he added.
The new policy also focuses on research and development research is key in the policy, including research activities in forests, said Mr. Camara. He added that the policy foresees that the Department of Forestry collaborates with NARI to conduct research on forest products. According to Mr. Camara, the new policy is advocating for the promotion of eco-tourism in the sense that eco-tourism strengthens the income earning capacity of villagers, while protecting the resource. He also called for the need to involve the local authorities as they play a key role, especially when its comes to land tenure arrangements. He added that local authorities have a big stake in terms of policy implementation.
Alhagie Demba Sanyang, the paramount chief of The Gambia, advised his colleagues to take ownership of the forests.