By Sailu Bah
“If steps are not taken by the authorities to ensure that mangroves are regenerated and restored, a place like Banjul will be under great threat of experiencing floods which can make the city to sink,” said Mr. Lamin Jobarteh, the Executive Director of West Africa Birds Study Association (WABSA).
Mr. Jobarteh made this wake up call in his presentation at a seminar organized by WABSA on “Mangrove Regeneration and the Dangers of Coastal Erosion” held at the Father Farrel Hall at Westfield, on Friday, 14th November 2014.
The Executive Director of WABSA said the functions of mangroves are to help in stabilizing the water salinity, blocking heavy tides from the river and also in filtering the dirt from the river. He said it is when there is too much dirt that the mangroves die.
Mr. Jobarteh disclosed that his organization has started programmes to sensitise school children, communities and youth groups on how to engage in mangrove regeneration and address coastal erosion in different regions within the Gambia.
The Executive Director of WABSA noted that mangroves are very vital in sustaining the environment and to avoiding floods and coastal erosion. He revealed that a lot of mangroves have died in the past years and that the number is increasing yearly due to human activities such as illegal dumping and lack of good environmental practices.
Mr. Jobarteh said they have been involved in sensitizing the communities on the importance of the regeneration of mangroves and exercising good environmental practices, adding that they have also trained the communities of Kartong village, Darsilami, Niumi national park and Ginak on how to plant mangroves.
He disclosed that they are planning to go to Banjul and to start working with the City Council in ensuring the regeneration of mangroves in the surrounding areas.
“Mangroves are at times considered hostile ecosystem due to their unique nature. Mangrove forests are considered a paradise for living creatures where birds, fish, crabs, shellfish, thrive etc. Oysters in particular grow on the root systems of the mangroves and are an important source of protein for most Gambians,” Mr. Jobarteh said.
Hatab Camara from the Forestry department, for his part, made a presentation on the causes and history of deforestation in the tropical zone and current concerns.
“Our forest should be well protected by us because when we lose it then we lose lots of animals and the environment will be under serious threat without trees,” noted the Forestry Department official.