Forestry boss warns of bush-fire threat to The Gambia’s forest cover

Forestry boss warns of bush-fire threat to The Gambia’s forest cover

23 February 2011

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Gambia — Wildfires pose a permanent threat to the workings of the country’s flora and fauna, destroying its ecological balance, according to the director of the Forestry Department. Mr. Abdoulie Sanneh strongly warned against increasing incidences of bushfires destroying the country’s forest cover especially in a region such as the CRR where such tragedies are rampant and affect farming communities. He reminded people that bushfires cause serious consequences for the forest, exposing the environment to numerous climatic changes such as high temperatures, excessive winds, floods, pollution, insufficient fodder and fuel wood, poor drainage and deforestation.

The director’s warning came against the backdrop of an increasing realization that the region accounts for the largest forestry reserve in the country amounting to around 137,604.00ha of forest cover. As the country braces up for more challenges on how to eradicate the bushfire menace, Mr. Sanneh called for attitudinal change among people in the region, pointing out with frankness that bushfires were the handiwork of human beings given to reckless habits such as smoking and game-hunting among other random causes of wildfires. He said he need not remind people that such fires destroy natural vegetation, leading to the loss of valuable fauna and flora. He advised people who are prone to such tendencies to refrain from acts whose consequences deplete the natural landscape and leave them at the mercy of the law.

While urging local communities to continually device mechanisms geared towards addressing the calamity of bushfires Sanneh added: “Controlling and preventing bushfires in this country should always be regarded as a process, not just an event because it has to do with changing habits, cultures and lifestyles”.

He also called upon the larger populace do refrain from the belief that forest fires affect issues relating to the forestry department alone, noting that as true citizens they should assume greater responsibility to deal with the menace in a collective way reflective of how Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh has been striving to develop the country.

As the anti bushfire campaign gains momentum across the country the forestry director urged people to take pre-emptive measures such as creating anti-forest corridors, refraining from indiscriminate throwing of burning cigarette as well as clearing arable farming lands with caution to minimize the risks of wildfires.

It could also be remembered that the forestry directorate in close collaboration with various organizations and institutions embarked on a massive tree planting campaign to restore the country’s vegetation lost to wildfires the cause of which the forestry chief said will never be condoned.

Mr. Sanneh said people should act as watchdogs in the nation’s general drive to banish bushfires which leave serious consequences to the natural vegetation cause the twin effects of climate change and global warming.

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