Thursday, January 20, 2011

Forestry Policy Recognised Alarming Degrradation of Forest Resources

NEWS BANJUL THE GAMBIA (MB)- According to the new Forest Policy of the Republic of The Gambia, the government has recognised the alarming rate of degradation of forest resources, and commissioned an institutional review and an update of the proceeding policy. The forestry sub-sector policy corners the period 2010-2019. The said policy was made available to journalists at a recent high level popularization meeting organized by the Ministry of Forestry.
The  policy stated the government recognised the prospects of a balanced ecosystem in advancing the socio-economic development of the country and the policy framework for sustainable natural resources management put an adequate forest cover at the centre front.
The proceeding then forest policy 1995-2005, proclaims that a forest cover of 30% is sufficient for maintaining an ecological balance necessary for sustainable economic growth, even though, the department of Forestry is unable to achieve this policy objective the review strongly recommended that the target be pursued in the next 10 year policy framework.
The proceeding policy suggested that 75 percent of the forest cover be managed by involving local communities and private sector. This policy provision was implemented but only 12 percent of this target has been achieved under this arrangement.
The principal objective of the participatory approach was to check the degradation, on order to restore the natural balance and sustain the production and use of forest resources. However it has been argued that the 10-year time-bound of the policy was inadequate to achieve the objectives. Hence after careful consultations at all levels, it was recommended that this policy objectives be further pursued in the next policy faced some of the following: increasing population pressure on land resources, inaccessibility to land and difficulties in securing extended tenure etc. These constraints constitute major challenges in the implementation of the policy under review. It is therefore essential that adequate remedial and protective measures are applied in a systematic manner to sustain a sound forest resource base for meeting the specific needs of the local population. The strategy for this policy period will have to build on the existing strengths and plug the perceived weaknesses. One key area is the need to improve the department’s capacity to manage change. The current competence base the policy went on needs to be hugely augmented to deal in with the proposed decentralization and empowerment agenda (at micro-level) and the emerging institution-building and policy research and implementation agendas (at micro and macro levels). Similarly, the whole area of research and development on alternative socio-economic uses of forest resources (e.g. medicinal trees and herbs) needs to be augmented. The need to improve learning mechanisms and the M and E system is obvious, as also is the need to harmonize and build synergies between related sectors. In the role facilitating joint action by related sectors, Department of forestry will continue to play a collaborative role.
Building the capacities of local government councils, private sector and other civil society organisations to engage on effective forest resource management. Public- private partnership will increasingly be required in forest resource management securing the tenure – rights for an extended period to match the long term benefits of private forestry w ill be reviewed private sector participation in harvesting and marketing of forest products is currently limited to only processing and selling of wood for construction and furniture production, however, what remains to be accomplished is adding value to non-wood products for both local consumption and export. Department of forestry will develop strategies for exploring emerging markets for forest beverages (local tea) and green products harvested or crafted by the poor. Finally the policy recognizes government’s strategic shift towards poverty reduction and economic growth, which underpins vision 2020. 

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