Monday, October 3

Standard Chartered Bank Partners GEA to embark on Mangrove planting in Banjul

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By: Nyima Sillah

In their quest to combat Climate Change and flash floods, the Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with The Gambia Environmental Alliance (GEA) will embark on a mangrove planting in Bond Road Tanbi Wetland to protect the City’s vanishing mangrove forest.

The exercise which is scheduled for the 10th of September aimed to green and restore 20 acres of wetland by planting 40,000 to 50,000 mangroves, and also to educate thousands of Banjulian people about the importance of mangroves.

Muhammad Hydara, the Secretary-General of GEA said the mangrove wetland is a vital flood defense; helps protect hundreds of vulnerable people on The Gambia River coast from rising sea levels.

“Bond Road Tanbi Wetland was once covered in mangroves — coastal trees that act as vital flood defenses and carbon storage systems — but the forests have been severely degraded, destroyed by encroaching, housing developments and wastes,” he stated.

He added “Mangroves are the understated habitat heroes of the coast. Mangroves provide multiple ecosystem services that support, protect and enhance the economies and livelihoods of coastal communities.”

The Secretary-General explained that the loss of mangrove forests also means the loss of food, shelter, and breeding grounds for an array of wildlife, from different crab species to cockles and prawns, which in turn affects local fishing communities reliant on the marine animals for food and livelihoods.

“Their disappearance as a natural bulwark against flooding and erosion also leaves coastal communities like Banjul and surrounding areas more vulnerable as climate change causes sea levels to rise and extreme weather,” he noted.

The consequences of the city and its surroundings losing almost 40 square kilometers of mangroves in the 21st century, he said, became clear after disastrous floods this year (2022) as it disrupted more than 30,000 people. 

Globally, between 30 to 50 percent of all mangrove forest cover has been lost in the last half-century to agriculture, aquaculture, infrastructure development, and waste, with knock-on effects for humans. And this is what opened all eyes after the recent floods of July 2022. Mangroves were often considered to be wild bushes, with no value to the environment, and with the floods hitting Banjul North and Tallinding people realized it is supposed to be a belt that protects the island city and maintains the balance between the land and the sea, he further explained the importance of the mangroves.