It is high time to act against logging activities

Monday, January 5, 2009
Recent wave of logging activities in The Gambia has spurred pessimistic perspectives over the future of our forest.

These actions represent the most widespread threat to livelihood and the existing ecosystems. To address this problem, there is an urgent need to take a number of decisions susceptible of rectifying the current trends. Needless to say that time has come to set the record straight with the main stakeholders on the necessity to protect our environment. More public hearings (and not avalanche of workshops) are to be organized in order to open people’s mind in the sense of having a responsible attitude towards environmental issues.

It is high time for Gambians to understand that our country cannot continue to allow predators to eradicate our forests. Thus, they have to sensitise people on the fact that:

1. the forest constitutes an integral part of the ecosystem

2. the forest is a critical natural resource and a socially vital economic good

3. the forest needs to be managed in an integrated and holistic manner to ensure its efficient and sustainable use.

These awareness tools can be used and expanded as part of Gambia’s continuing efforts to promote public awareness on the fight against deforestation. It is true that the fight against deforestation and logging activities is not just an environmental issue; and responding to this phenomenon is not just about turning to more efficient environmental policies.

Climate change is also an economic issue and the local populations must learn to cope with it now and prepare for a future of more change. The real and emerging threat of climate change will affect both faces of Africa—growth may be jeopardized and poverty further exacerbated. Without forest, no community or country can survive. The impacts of climate change must be diligently studied and proactive measures taken to make the region more resilient.

On the whole, logging activities are likely to introduce high levels of risks and uncertainties that the rural populations may not be able to handle effectively, at least in the short term. More research and capacity development will be needed if serious deforestation (through logging activities) and climate change vulnerabilities are to be avoided.

Author: By Abdoulie John