Gambia — The community of Bulock in Foni Berefet District on Tuesday participated in a one-day sensitization campaign aimed at curbing bush fires through appropriate capacity building focusing on environmental management and monitoring. According to officials, there is the need for a proper environmental management and monitoring scheme to help protect the countrys forest cover. They noted that keeping bush fires at bay is an important development indicator since it adds value to the countrys forest. They also challenged the youths of the community to remain resolved on issues of sustainable management of the environment through the implementation of mitigation measures to offset bush fires.
According to Mr. Ousman Jallow, an environmental specialist who works under the Ministry of Forestry, environmental management and monitoring so as to offset the problems of bush fires is very crucial to ensure sustainability. He said that since human beings rely heavily on the forest cover for survival, they should be able to prevent bush fires which retard development.
This, he added, is in the communitys interest which helps to limit the damages directed towards the environments natural bushes by either reducing or eliminating adverse impacts such as bush fires, and to promote feasible environmental enhancement measures. He stated that community sensitization on bush fires is very vital as it informs the people on proper environmental monitoring plans, outline the objectives of the monitoring as well as the specific information which needs to be collected on the well-being of the forest from depletion.
Environmental management to prevent bush fires through sensitization includes assigning institutional responsibility to the community through capacity building of this nature so that they can report on requirements and enforcement capability. This will immensely help government in ensuring that adequate resources are provided in terms of funds, skilled staff, equipment, and supplementary training, Jallow observed.
Mr. Jallow added that the active involvement of the community on issues of environmental protection is crucial since it would provide the needed capacity to effectively and efficiently protect the environment. He said that such campaigns at the community level would enhance their performance through readiness to protect and monitor such bad practices on the environment. He also stated that human activities affect a wide range of issues on the environment in satisfying their varied interests, but this should not mar what is left of the environment especially through bush burning.
I think this event would give the people of this community a new outlook on how to prevent bush fires which is crucial to our development. Some people deliberately set bushes on fire and I think they need sensitizations of this nature so that they would know the threats it pose to the environment, he averred. He also stated that those entrusted to manage and monitor activities on the environment through legislation are doing commendably but need the full support of the community in helping to identify significant environmental and social issues to ensure the making of right decisions.
Mr. Jallow then challenged the youths of the community not to relent in their efforts in preventing bush fires, noting that an effective environmental management system considers what methods are used to achieve the most efficiency. The community must then cooperate with officials to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations. This, he argued, would augur well for the sustainable management and control of the countrys forest cover for posterity. He summed up by urging the youths to serve as the communitys watchdog by reporting anyone found wanting through deliberately setting fires to bushes.
Also speaking at the occasion, Malamin Daffeh, a member of the communitys development committee who is also a young agriculturist said that it is important to campaign against bush burning at the community level through sensitization by which the people would be better informed.
Environmental protection is necessary for sustainable development since the policies designed in this vein address local needs, he said.
It has been noted that some people are not well-versed on the damages of bush fires on the environment, sensitization campaign is crucial since it provides the requirements for public participation. Communities being sensitized on the negative impacts of bush burning would acquire the capacity to collectively help government wade off uncontrolled bush fires, he said.
Mr. Daffeh added that many problems are identified to be attributes of bush fires such as the destruction of the soil texture, killing of soil organisms meant for decomposition as well as loss of the forest cover which leads to low rainfall and global warming. He said that community sensitization is relatively new, but it is assuming increasing importance since it is the most effective method to bring these local masses to the fore and relate with them for better understanding. He urged the youths of the community to work hand in glove with the relevant authorities to protect, monitor and manage the environment so as to achieve sustainable development.