By Alhagie F.S Sora
Hundreds of women from Jiffarong, Lower River Region on Tuesday 9 September embarked on mangrove tree planting exercise, where over 15 hectares were planted.
The project which is funded by Wetlands International, started two years ago and is aimed at rehabilitating the Bintang-Bolong with mangroves plants.
Mr. Rechard Dacosta, the Project Coordinator speaking at the intervention site in Jiffarong village swamp, said wetland International is a non-governmental organization which has its regional headquarters in Dakar. He said they intervene in areas such as mangroves, water bird and livelihood activities in Africa, Asia and America.
He explained that prior to their new intervention site which is Jiffarong, they have intervened in several communities such as Bondali-Tenda, Sanden village in Kiang West amongst others.
He said they are focusing in countries like Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, for the mangroves plan as demonstration sites.
Mr. Dacosta said the importance of the mangrove is to protect the saline of the swamp and help the fish to breath. He stated that without the mangroves, the activities of the fishermen will be very low and that will in turn lead to low household income and feeding.
He said they have started in house- capacity building on the importance of replanting mangrove to protect the ecosystem and also build their capacity on solar system production and gardening as a livelihood action.
In terms of monitoring and evaluation, the project coordination team said they involve their partners like forestry, parks and wildlife, and the intervention communities to ensure that everything is well managed. He said they also ensure that the young seeds are not tampered with either by cattle or fishermen.
He commended the communities for taking ownership of the projects.
Lamin Njie, a senior Forestry Officer for the department of forestry said his department is mandated to protect and conserve marine resources in the country particularly up land and low land.
He noted: “we have lost vast resources in the past; these losses have started from the Casamance region down to the Bintang Bolong and as a result of this degradation, the department of forestry and other stakeholders embark on massive replanting to restore the degraded zone so that we can have our lost biodiversity”.
Mr. Njie said they have selected pilot site namely; Bondali tenda and Kiang Sandan and that they have registered a remarkable success which is why this year they selected three new communities namely; Jiffarong, Joreng in the Foni Jarrol district and Bondali Village.
He finally said since the communities have full ownership, they are to monitor and preserve it for the new generation.
Babanding Kinteh, the “Alkalo” of Jiffarong village said the benefit of the replanting of mangrove is vital for fishing activities, roofing amongst others. He recalled that when they were young, the site used to be busy with good catches and that improved their living and incomes.
While thanking them, he assured them that they would take full ownership of the project and full time protection of the planted trees.