Coastal degradation poses threat to Gambia’s nature reserve

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Bijilo Forest Park - Foto: Fatou Touray |Afropé
Bijilo Forest Park – Foto: Fatou Lusi |Afropé

High tides as a result of the climate change are having serious toll on Gambia’s coastal environment, eating up the beautiful beach that stretches long the Bijilo/Kololi area.

Last week Monday evening, this correspondent took a walk along the area and discovered eyesores that only remind that our environment is gradually being consumed by the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The situation at this area has not only almost eaten up a local bar and restaurant that sits on the beach, but also poses a serious threat to one of the country’s most visited nature reserves, the Monkey Park.

If not tackled, the situation might get out of hand and encroach upon the park, which is just a stone throw from the destruction site.

About the park

Also known as the Bijilo Forest Park, the species rich, fenced woodland was gazette in 1952 and covers an area of 51.3 hectares (126 acres / about half a square km), and is on the Atlantic Ocean beach at the southern end of the Senegambia area of Kololi. It has a total length of 1,500 meters parallel to the coast and width of 350 meters, and the soils are deep and well drained. The protected nature reserve is comprised primarily of a closed canopy forest with a significant number of rhun palms, and with a relatively thin strip of herbaceous dune vegetation.

Bijilo Forest Park - Foto: Fatou Touray |Afropé
Bijilo Forest Park – Foto: Fatou Lusi |Afropé

Between 1951 to 1956 the only land management activity implemented was the clearing of fire lines along the boundaries on both sides of the fence. In 1977 the park was re-surveyed by the Department of Forestry and again in 1982, this was followed by an inventory of the park. A nature trail was created by the Gambian-German Forestry Project in 1991, when the area was made open to the public, and now receives about 23,000 visitors each year.


Hatab Fadera