By Madiba Singhateh
The fire that engulfed Nyambai and Bamba Forest Park in West Coast region on Thursday 07th December destroyed 23 plots/compartments.
The forest was made to be set ablaze by an insane man, according to a forest official.
Speaking to Foroyaa, the plantation section head Buba Bojang said the fire started at about 12.30 pm to 01.00pm whilst they were at the office.
He said upon reaching there they saw another big smoke in the forest park.
He said the velocity of wind was high and that made the fire to spread to about 23 compartments.
He said most of the climbers were burnt and the underground weeds in the compartments were affected as well as some part of the Gmelina stumps.
Mr.Bojang said they believe that the affect Gmelina will flourish whenever there is rain.
He said Gmelina is a species which even if affected by fire can flourish.
He added that the age of the Gneilina plantation and the deep roots of the trees are such that no superficial fires can cause them any harm; only a long lasting ground fire could do so.
Mr.Bojang gave as example in 1992 when the whole of Bamba Forest was burnt down.
He said then the trees were in their first generation and that fire did not affect plantation.
He added that in 1995 when Furayaa Forest Park was felled and burnt for farmers to plant rice, the following year the trees flourished.
He said the fire lasted for 7 hours and the Technical Unit and Plantation joined the Fire and Rescue Services who were with them for two hours but later left.
He said after the incident it came to their notice that an insane person started the fire. He said the insane man came to the scene and claimed that the area belonged to him.
On similar notice he said they do redouble their efforts in controlling women entering the park for firewood.
Apart from forest fire, encroachment is also fast approaching in forest of the Gambia. Estates and companies started buying lands believed to be part of the forest park. Parks like Nyambai, Kabifita Salagi and Bijilo are all encroached on.
We will follow the causes of forest fire and the impact it has on the forest. We will also follow the encroachment and whether there is Demarcation for some of the National forest parks in the Gambia.
The Forestry Director Mr. Mohamed Jaiteh has said that part of the park that was burnt will be replanted.
He said they will work on the re planting and cleaning the forest area ‘as usual’.
On the issue of encroachment he said they are also working with the Ministry of the Environmental and planning unit to possibly see how they will tackle this issue.
He said they are very aware of encroachment in the forest areas of the country.