Bushfires is a perennial problem in The Gambia especially in rural areas. Annually, the country has suffered a great deal with regards to bushfires, because when it occurs, it burns through hundreds of thousands of hectares and destroys hundreds of properties with the recent ones recording loss of six lives.
It has become a common phenomenon that calls for concerted effort by all.
Despite a series of sensitisation campaigns being conducted by the Forestry Department and its partners in the communities, it seems more needs to be done to tackle the menace.
In our previous edition, we reported that a 37-year-old man and native of Kiang Wurokang in Lower River Region was killed by bush fire.
The deceased, according to sources, was out to clear an area, where his firewood was packed, to prevent it from being consumed by the fire. Unfortunately, he got consumed by the fire in the process.
Experts believe that changing weather patterns have led to both severe flooding and desertification in many countries across Africa, affecting crop yields and food security. They also say that high population density has led to increasingly intensive use of natural resources, meaning the ecosystems have less and less time to recover. And the fires are also becoming more common. However, 96% of the world’s fires are now either deliberately lit or unintentionally caused by humans. For instance, we all know that many areas in the country are cleared using the slash and burn method to make way for agriculture, livestock or industry.
These impacts, are often felt by the most vulnerable members of society. They also occur primarily in countries with fewer resources to cope with.
We should bear in mind that bushfires and felling trees are not only harmful to human beings but also to animals. Bush fires also result to mass migration of the wildlife species or even death among them. We all know that animals and people depend heavily on the forest and each other for survival.
We, therefore, urge the authorities to intensify their efforts in creating awareness among our people, particularly, those in the rural areas where the menace of bush fires is common.
“Every tree in the forest has a story to tell. some of them were burnt but they endured the fire and got revived; some of them were cut, their barks injured, some people pick up their leaves to make medicines for their sicknesses, birds used their leaves to make their nets. etc. upon all these, the tree is till tree!”