Gambia — As the dry season sets in the Regional Forestry Officer (RFO) for Central River Region, Mr. Ousainou Cham, has cautioned the people of the region to exercise extra caution in order to prevent bush fires. He made this remark in an interview with this reporter in Janjanbureh. Mr. Cham opined that the peak season for bush fires are from November to December when farmers are busy with harvesting and May to June when the dominant farming activity is clearing.
RFO Cham called on all the local authorities to be watchdogs and strengthen their efforts to protect the forest by developing fire prevention strategies such as creating fire breaks along constituency and village boundaries, noting that this is a collective responsibility. Mr Cham disclosed that most bush fire incidents occur outside the community forest and forest parks, adding that bush fires do not only affect agriculture but also contribute to environmental degradation. He enthused that some community forests and forest parks are being successfully managed, noting that their protection from annual bush fires has brought about improvement in bio-diversity.
He urged the people of CRR to utilise the resources in a more sustainable manner, saying that communities should be sensitised on the importance of forests. He stressed the role of the media in the sensitisation of the local communities, urging the line department and stakeholders to work hand in glove in the prevention and protection of forests from indiscriminate extraction of wood and non wood products, adding that the expansion of agricultural activities has changed the forest structure.