By Mustapha Jarju
The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management (DPWM) last week organized a day mangrove restoration awareness forum in Soma Jarra West, Lower River Region.
Local government authorities, including chiefs, village heads, and some members of the communities from the West Coast Region, Lower River Region, Central River Region, and the North Bank Region, attended the Forum.
Momodou Lamin Gasama, the Director of the Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, speaking at the Forum, said the mangrove restoration project is strategized with several millions of dalasi that have been pumped into beneficiary communities as a direct consequence of the mangrove restoration for this year.
He added that the beneficiary communities are taking 60% of the benefits in this project, and his department sees tangible benefits in those communities.
He said the Forum is a climate resilience project that is also part of the nature solution that they have started.
He further added that his department has the mandate to take care of the wetlands, and the Gambia has signed an agreement called the “Ramsa Convention,” in which mangroves are vital components.
“There has been a lot of diverse mangroves all along the coasts from K Point, in Kombo South part of West Coast, Brumen Bridge, and LRR; we have started embarking on this rehabilitation with a project called Department of Parks and Wild Life about 15years ago then we move with NEMA Cheso”, declared Director Gasama.
Gasama said the project has covered a lot of degraded wetlands with mangroves and helped his department understand the amount of mangroves in the country.
“We have done an extensive ground rooting, with ecological survey across the width and breadth of this country; it is alarming that it is happening in CRR and also the river Gambia,” he said.
Thomas Lyse, speaking on behalf of the ORSTED Cooperation with Gambia, who are the project’s sponsors, said they have been working with the DPWM for years, in which last year they covered 240 hectares of mangrove restoration.
“And this project went up to 4,000 hectares, the project involves up to about 10,000 people in the Gambia, and we are proud to be part of this carbon project”, said Thomas.
He said they have worked in other countries, but what they have seen in the Gambia is organizational commitment, with transparency, to restore the Gambia’s unique mangrove ecosystem.
Mr. Thomas said the project is an ample opportunity for the Gambia government and the local communities.
National Assembly Member for Kiang West Lamin Ceesay, also speaking at the Forum, said this project is one of the most sustainable projects he has witnessed.
NAM Ceesay said he has been involved in the project since its commencement, and his community benefitted so much from the project.
He added that there have been funds disbursed to the local people who are engaged in the planting of mangroves.
“An individual benefits D500 per bag of mangrove, and Kiang Keneba village alone, through our coordination, has benefitted millions from the project, and they want to construct a road from the commencement of the community to the end of the community, ” said Hon. Ceesay.
He said the people of Kiang Keneba have already communicated to the consultancy to make a consultancy work on the road project before the commencement.
He further added that Kiang Joli also benefitted over D300,000, Kiang Karantaba also benefitted over 500,000, and Kiang Jula Kunda benefitted around D300,000 and many more communities.
The Kiang West MP said this is a livelihood benefit for the people, inclusive and participatory, therefore calling on people to protect the mangroves for their use.
He also called on the wildlife department to devise a mechanism to end the cutting of mangroves for domestic purposes.