The Gambia identified with "the best forest policy"
The Gambia’s Community Forestry Policy has won silver in the 2011 Future Policy Awards as one of the world’s most inspiring and innovative forest policies.
The tiny West African country, with the support of the FAO and other development partners, has established the first policy and legislation in Africa to facilitate local populations with secure and permanent forest ownership rights.
With over 350 villages managing 12 percent of the country’s forests and a net increase in forest cover of 8.5 percent over the last two decades, The Gambia has strengthened a strong deforestation trend in Africa.
Eduardo Rojas-Briales, FAO’s Assistant Director-General for Forestry said, “The Gambia's experience has shown that the challenge of sustainable forestry can be attained through the government's willingness to empower rural populations.” The success of The Gambia’s Community Forest Policy proves that even in the world’s poorest countries, with the right policies and legal framework in place, rural populations can benefit economically.”
The Gambia’s Forest Policy is transferring forest tenure from state ownership to management by local communities enabling them to reduce illegal logging and forest fires, slow desertification and benefit from using the forest products.
“It has won thanks to the ‘collective efforts of all well-meaning Gambians’ said Gambia’s Director of Forestry, Abdoulie Sanneh as he praised Gambian communities for taking ownership of their forest parks.
He continued saying, “We will keep increasing our efforts to raise The Gambia’s flag high in the international community.
Between 2000 and 2004, FAO has facilitated the introduction of economic incentives in the community forestry concept. In 2009 Gambia joined the National Forest Programme Facility hosted by FAO and received help with expanding community forestry areas and enhancing the capacity of stakeholders to derive economic benefits from community forestry. A recent FAO-supported project provided assistance to the revision and popularization of the forest policy.
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