By Ndey Sowe
The National Commission for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO-NATCOM) has on Saturday embarked on a massive tree planting exercise in four (4) schools within the West Coast Region (WRC).
The exercise saw the planting of two hundred (200) trees such as mangoes, lemon, pawpaw, moringa, cashew nuts and among others. The exercise is aimed at preserving the environment
UNESCO-NATCOM is in partnership with the National Environment Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, National Disaster Management Agency ActionAid International, EBAProject, NEA and FAO.
The beneficiaries of the tree planting exercise are among UNESCO’s Associated Schools Project (ASP Net) and UNESCO clubs’ schools including KinderDorf Bottrop Technical Upper and Senior Secondary Schools in Brikama Kombo Central, Brikama Lower Basic School, Tujereng Upper and Senior School and Abuko Upper Basic School.
In her remarks, Maimuna Sidibeh, principal programme officer for UNESCO–NATCOM, said the project is aimed at mitigating environmental challenges in the country like other African countries that encountered environmental challenges.
She said women and youth are more vulnerable to environmental challenges; thus, UNESCO deems it necessary to engage women and youth, especially students and mothers’ clubs to protect the environment.
“Trees are important in giving lives and without trees we cannot breathe,” she said.
Speaking further, she said without enough trees, there would be no sufficient rainfall in the country and deforestation is a contributing factor of erratic rainfall in the country.
“Therefore, we call on partners who are stakeholders in this quest such as NEA, NDMA, EBA, and Department of forest to bring heads and resources together and try to increase the number of tree planting activities in the country,” she noted.
She advised the school administration to take good care of the trees to ensure their survival, while commending all heads, teachers, students and mother clubs for their participation in the exercise.
Lamin Jarju, programme officer for UNESCO, told participants that trees are significant in ensuring regular rainfall. He said countries without many trees hardly experience rainfall, citing Mauritania as a country that hardly gets rainfall owing to the lack of many trees.
“Before, The Gambia used to have six months of rainfall, but we are not having that now because of the frequent cutting of trees. The Gambia has many laws that safeguard trees. The Forestry Act states that no one should cut trees and if someone is doing so, he or she should take permission from the Department of Forestry,” he said.
Buba Jallow, vice principal 2 of KinderDorf Bottrop Technical Upper and Senior Secondary Schools in Brikama in Kombo Central, expressed delight about the exercise, saying the trees are important in providing food and medication for people.
“Trees also induce rainfall and they serve as wind breakers. This is what we always teach our students,” he said.
Mustapha Jarja, head teacher of Brikama Lower Basic School said: “Trees maintain clean and control run of water to minimize erosion. We will also nurture the trees so that they benefit the young ones.”