Mar 11, 2009, 9:37 AM
This was contained in a statement delivered on her behalf by the assistant deputy country representative, Mariatou Njie, at the Paradise Suites Hotel during the official opening of a three-day national security and nutrition workshop organised by FAO.
According to her, the seminar aimed to reflect on the past two-decade’s community forestry experience and its possible impact on food security and nutrition, and explore ways to strengthen the contribution of forests to food security and nutrition in The Gambia.
Addressing these changes in the forest sector is key to unlocking forests’ full contribution to sustainable livelihoods, including food security and nutrition, she said.
The FAO official applauded the Gambia government for the demonstrated leadership in the sustainable fight against hunger, one that marries the preservation and restoration of forests and natural resources with food security.
FAO remains committed to working with the government and the people of The Gambia in these noble endeavours, she said.
According to the FAO rep, the Gambia government’s commitment to healthy forests and food security was clearly manifested in The Gambia’s first forestry policy in 1995 and forestry legislation in 1998.
It was the first country in Africa to provide the local population with secure forest tenure rights, she added.
The empowerment of the local communities contributed to the conservation and sustainable development of forests, as well as to the establishment of producer groups generating income from forest management, she continued.
Owing to the successful implementation of the community forestry policy, The Gambia has managed to reduce a severe deforestation trend in the country, with over 350 villages managing 12 per cent of the country’s forests and a net increase in forest cover of 8.5 per cent over the last two decades, the FAO official went on.
It was also important to note that The Gambia has met the Millennium Development Goal 1 of reducing half the population of hungry people since 1990-92 in the past decades, she announced.