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Key Note address on the occasion of the Kafuta Forestry School Graduation Ceremony 9th August 2018 by Hon. Minister

Key Note address

The Governor of WCR

District Chief and Alkalos of Kombo East

Permanent Secretaries Present

Directors of Forestry and DPWM

The Guest Speaker

Regional Forestry Officers and Unit Heads

Invited Guests and Family Members

The Community of Kafuta

Distinguished Grandaunts

It is indeed a pleasure to deliver this keynote address this evening.

My heartfelt congratulations go out to all the grandaunts here present on reaching an important milestone in their academic journey. Today is really and truly a day in which you reminisce upon and celebrate your perseverance, sweat and yes even tears that went into the hard work that has brought this success to you.

Distinguish Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Our country is endowed with a wide range of forest and woodland ecosystems which include gallery forest, closed woodland, open woodland, tree and shrub savanna, mangrove, riparian and fringing savanna ecosystems.

The forest cover constitutes 43% of the land area. These resources provide an important basis for the country’s economic and social development directly affecting the livelihood of the majority of the population.

The forest and woodland ecosystems supply about 85% of the domestic energy requirements and timber requirement for other domestic purposes such as building materials, medicinal products, food and other social and cultural needs. Furthermore, the forests and woodland ecosystems are a home to a large number of animal species some of which are threatened locally. It has been generally acknowledged that the forestry sector has indeed a great potential in augmenting rural income through sustainable utilization of tree resources. It is in recognition of this fact that sustainable forest management has become an integral part of the country’s National Development Plan.

Ladies and Gentlemen

However, the current rate of deforestation and land degradation is alarming as revealed by the last national forest resource assessment of 2010. The level of forest cover loss is at 97, 000has indicating a very high magnitude of loss within a decade. We therefore have a huge task at hand to ensure that the trend is reversed to guaranty a healthy and productive ecosystem balance for the present and future generations to come. Cognizant of the contribution of the forestry sector towards the socio-economic development of the Gambian populace, the Department of Forestry with support from MECCNAR continuously seek to embark on capacity building to enhance the professional and institutional ability of the department to effectively and efficiently manage the country’s forest resource. It is against this background and in line with the Forest Policy that we are able to provide you with this important training. Now you must not only apply the skills and knowledge acquired but you are expected to share and assist those of your colleagues who are not fortunate to attend this program. In this way the training will have the intended multiplier effect.

Distinguished grandaunts

The Country is faced with immense challenges of deforestation, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and climate change to address. It is therefore incumbent on all of us especially you the young foresters and wildlife conservators to contribute significantly towards addressing and salvaging the dire situation faced by the country. You are not only expected to provide professional and technical support in the conservation and management of biological resources to  communities you will be serving,  but you are also expected to be honest in all your dealings  as you are representing the Department and Ministry. Therefore, you are strongly advised to desist from all activities that may bring disrepute to your image, especially illegal exploitation of forest resources as it may have negative implications cost.

You may be faced with challenges in the execution of your duties in the field, always consult with your immediate supervisors and encourage dialogue to resolve problems. Consult the existing documents such as the policy and legal frameworks, guidelines and the Gambia Forest Management Concept to professionally address challenges and problems you may encounter in the dispensation of your responsibilities and duties. Nurture the existing collaborations with partner institutions and understand that it is only through meaningful collaborations and partnership you can achieve your goals in the field.

Distinguish Guest, Ladies and Gentlemen

I would want to take this opportunity to thank the community of Kafuta through the Alkalo for their support and hospitality in hosting the Forestry station. Equally, I extend appreciation to the staff of the Department of Forestry for their work in the district. Once again to the graduates I congratulate you.

On that note, I thank you all for your attendance and kind attention.

Thank You

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