Dec 21, 2015, 10:14 AM
The Department of Forestry at the weekend celebrated National Anti-Bush Fire Day in Janjangbureh Central River Region.
The celebration, which brought together people from all walks of life, seeks to create awareness and cause reflection in the minds of the people on the effects and hazards of bushfire to the socio-economic livelihood of the Gambian population.
Speaking on the occasion, Abdoulie Sanneh, Director of Forestry, underscored the significance of the celebration, which he noted is significant to the Forestry Department's calendar.
He stated that the celebration of the anti-bush fire day in the Central River Region was timely and historic in all aspects, considering the uniqueness of the region to the Forestry Department.
According to him, the Central River Region has the largest forest cover, about 137, 604 hectares, which makes apparent the high impact of bush fires in the Central River Region.
Mr. Sanneh further stated that this causes serious consequences on the forest cover, and exposes the environment to numerous climate change effects such as high temperature, excessive wind blowing, floods, pollution, among others.
"It can be said with great degree of certainty that fires in this country are caused by human beings through their activities and habits. Controlling and preventing bush fires in this country should always be regarded as a process, and not an event because it has to do with changing of our habits, cultures and ways of life," Director Sanneh declared.
In his view, the common notion that forest fires are issues only for the Forestry Department should no longer be held in our minds as true Gambian citizens who have good intentions for the present rapid development of this country.
"We must regard the forest resources as our common heritage, whose preservation requires our collective action for posterity," he noted.
In conclusion, Sanneh described the celebration as another step in our efforts to eradicate bush fires.
Ganyie Touray, Governor of the Central River Region, highlighted the serious impact of bush fires, which he said remain a serious problem since the onset of forestry in The Gambia. "Various policies have been adopted in our attempt to keep bush fire incidences to a very low level, and these policies have been changing with time based on several strategies, taking into consideration the changing patterns in climate, demographic movement and vegetation cover," he added.
Governor Touray described the theme for this year’s celebration: "Bush fire accelerates climate change", as an important milestone in the country's journey to protect, regenerate and manage the country's natural resources on a sustainable basis.
The CRR, he went on, is famous for harbouring livestock from other regions in search of food and water. "However, the requisite measures must be in place to create the necessary momentum for these livestock," he said, adding that there should be the possibility of range lands, fire prevention, control and management.
He further stated that through the implementation of these policies and legal instruments, the stakeholders of our natural resources at grass-roots level are empowered to be managers of their own resources.
"The government will pursue the full implementation of these plans with the active collaboration and participation of the communities, private sector, NGOs and our donor partners in order to realize our goals and objectives," Governor Touray further stated.
He expressed his conviction that the inclusion of the issue of bush fires among the priority lists of our nation, further demonstrates the country's determination to achieve its previous goals in the fight against poverty and underdevelopment.
"In order to achieve this, it is imperative to incorporate sound and sustainable strategies that are demand driven and adaptable by the major stakeholders and grass- root communities in the fight against bush fires," he concluded.