By Own Correspondent – The Gambia has been identified among nations whose sustainable forestry policies are eye-catching, and the country among the most likely potential winners for this year’s prestigious FAO Future Policy Award 2011, this paper has reliably learned.
The development came as the Gambia government is formulating district forestry policies geared toward better management of the country’s forest cover.
“If there is anything, The Gambia’s success story on efficient, effective and sustainable forest management policies is mainly due to the exemplary leadership of the country backed by the unflinching support enjoyed from the cabinet, the National Assembly, the forestry department and the commitment of the local populace,” said Abdoulie Sanneh, Director of Forestry, in his reaction to the Gambia’s nomination for the award.
The first Forest Policy for 1995- 2005 embraced the Community Forestry Management, CFM-approach, followed by the revised Forest Bill and Regulation in 1998 that was enacted shortly after, to boost the implementation of the CFM.
In 2006, the forest policy was revised to include the recent development of the CFM concept such as Community Forest Enterprise Development using the market analysis and development marketing and approach, community–based fire management, and the Gambia forest communication concept.
The Gambia has over the years forged closer ties with the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations in the drive to not only protect, preserve and secure the nations endowed forest cover, but making community forestry sustainable as well.
In 2000 and 2004, the Gambia benefitted from support from the FAO with the introduction of economic incentives in the community forestry concept through the use of market analysis and development approach with the main purpose of making community forestry a sustainable effort.
The country also joined the National Forest Programme Facility hosted by FAO in 2009 and thus received support to expand the community forestry areas and enhance the capacity of stakeholders to obtain economic benefits from community forestry, as well as recent support from the global body to revise and popularize the forest policy.
The holistic approach of community forest management now forms the main thrust of the forest department, and it is envisioned that, by 2016, nearly half of the forest will be under community management.
It is crystal clear that today communities have established producer groups, generating income from forest management and, according to FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment 2010, forest cover has increased and forest fires have diminished.