Sixth National Report
Section I. Information on the targets being pursued at the national level
By 2020, at the latest, 50% of The Gambia’s populations are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably. ()
Local communities and decision makers of The Gambia are well aware of direct uses of biodiversity, but do not recognize the value of most ecosystem goods and services. Therefore, policy makers are concerned with poverty reduction and development issues that have short term gains, but already have an impact on biodiversity. However, more efforts are required to increase overall awareness and participation of communities, policy makers, Civil Society Organizations and the Private Sector on the diverse values of biodiversity to influence the ability and willingness of the target stakeholders to make positive changes and to create more political will of the Government for effective realization of the three pillars of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
By 2020, biodiversity values are integrated 100% into national and local development and poverty reduction planning processes and national accounts ()
The values of biodiversity, especially of ecosystem services are not considered in the national accounting systems, therefore, not prioritized and are poorly funded. The objective of this target is to ensure that the diverse values of biodiversity and opportunities derived from its conservation and sustainable use are recognized and reflected in all relevant public and private decision-making such as national and local development and poverty reduction strategies.
The development and adoption of this specific target was based on the idea of making biodiversity values the backbone of national development but more precisely a milestone to poverty alleviation. Thus, this ambitious idea is reflected by the National Development Plan whose implementation requires the complicity of all development sectors ranging from private to public.
By 2020, all forms of pollution from water and land-based activities are brought to levels that are non-detrimental to ecosystem functions ()
Preventing and mitigating the impacts of pollution and the serious threats on air, land and aquatic biodiversity, is a great concern. In view of the current development prospects with an increase in land and marine based activities by large scale agro-industries, forest, port infrastructure development, fishing, livestock, tourism and other sector activities, there is a need for urgent action to prevent and mitigate the impact of the polluting substances, solid and liquid waste that will increasingly be generated across all ecosystems and within specific sectors
To monitor industrial and others detrimental activities to biodiversity, The Gambia government has encouraged the establishment of a national Agency in charge of EIA as well as of dangerous waste management within the overall country. Besides, this institution was encouraged to control the entire harmful substances embarking in the country with the ambition of preserving the socioecological nexus. Consequently, this particular target is formulated in line with the objective set by the aforementioned agency with an integrated approach of waste management mainly toxic one.
By 2020, 50 % Governments, business and stakeholders have plans for sustainable production and consumption and keep the impacts of resource use within safe ecological limits ()
Most Government agencies and business sectors have plans but do not reflect biodiversity considerations in their planning and practices consequently, leading to series of environment problems such as logging, sand mining, deforestation etc. Therefore, to adequately inform the planners to mainstream biodiversity issues into their strategies is a key priority for all stakeholders.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management through its GBMIS project has developed a guideline for private sector involvement in the management of wildlife in the country. This was meant to facilitate the involvement of private entities and individuals in the management of the resources in order to diversify governance type and to improve substantial revenue generation of the subsector. This target will assist in improving advocacy for mainstreaming biodiversity issues into projects, plans and programs of institution and businesses. The target will further facilitate the alignment of the biodiversity conventions with other Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and help report the outcome of the monitoring and evaluation process.
By 2020, the rate of biodiversity loss, including forest fragmentation and land degradation is considerably reduced by 50% ()
Over-utilization of biological resources is a major threat, contributing to degradation of rangelands, forest ecosystems, aquatic ecosystems and associated species. Therefore, sustainable management is required to biodiversity conservation and to derive benefits in such forms as soil fertility, erosion control, the well-being and sustainable livelihoods of local communities engaged in the management of natural resources.
Criteria for sustainable management of resources have been adopted by Agriculture and Natural Resources working group and there are many efforts by the Government, local communities and CSOs geared towards promoting good practices and applying diverse governance mechanisms. There is a need to enforce the legal norms that are designed to ensure sustainable management of natural resources for posterity.
The stakeholders have experience in developing by-laws to control access and use of local biological resources. the rational management of the biodiversity requires knowledge on the resource attributes for subsequent up-scaling.
By 2020, 60% of areas that are suitable for spawning and nursery grounds are protected, while the use of wrong fishing gears reduced by 40% ()
The coastal zones of the Gambia includes nearly 58,000 ha of mangrove stands and laterite reefs serving as spawning and nursery ground for fisheries species and aquatic mammals. Mangrove dieback and the rampant utilization of wrong fishing gears are the major causes of depletion of fish stock and other aquatic species. However, coastal erosion also alters the nomenclature of the shoreline affecting the breeding patterns and grounds of cetaceans and marine turtles.
The country has already established a 1 nautical mile from the coastline as a fisheries protected zone and DPWM is currently managing 53,000 ha of mangroves set aside as nursery and spawning ground. To ensure sustainability of these functions there is a need to reforest or restore dieback areas affecting these wetlands through community participation. Coastal engineering is also a strong option to address coastal erosion. Engaging fisher folks and local communities to police fisheries resources and discourage the use of wrong fishing gears can be a strong mechanism to sustainably manage fish and the fisheries resources. In the recent past, the GoWAMER project helped the procurement of a speed patrol boat. The project provided appropriate fishing gears to selected fishermen in exchange of wrong mesh size nets and unsustainable fishing gears(drag nets).
By 2020, 50% of areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity ()
Habitat conversion is one of the major factors of biodiversity loss in the Gambia. Increasing demand for food and other agricultural products, among others, has resulted in clearing of natural habitats to make space for agricultural land. Economic, demographic and social pressures are likely to put further pressure on biodiversity and related habitats. Therefore, it is an urgent need to decrease and gradually cease such expansion into forest and other ecosystems. Wetland issues are incorporated into biodiversity and other sectoral policies but not adequately addressed. Currently Gambia has designated 3 RAMSAR sites and is contemplating the option to increase the number.
Habitat loss can be addressed through conservation of habitat and restoration of degraded areas. The emphasis of this target will rely on preventing the loss of high-biodiversity value habitats, such as primary forest and wetland areas. Reduction in the rate of loss and degradation of natural habitats can be achieved by adopting technologies and innovations that increase productivity of small holder farmers. This will help in increasing yields and value of crops per unit input which will result in a decrease in requirements for new agricultural lands. The other scheme is creating alternative source of livelihoods for local communities to drive off pressure from the natural habitats. There is a need to develop a wetland policy to adequately address wetland conservation and livelihood issues. Facilitating the designation of more RAMSAR Sites in order to enhance biodiversity conservation is urgent.
By 2020, reduced occurrence and prevent introduction of invasive species by 50%. ()
Invasive species are threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services. In Gambia, invasive species are spreading rapidly in protected areas and other water bodies causing a reduction in species occurrence and availability. They are also affecting productivity in the wetlands. They are displacing indigenous species of their natural ecosystems. Though the extent of the damage is not established, they are becoming threat to food security. Therefore, they need to be controlled and eventually eradicated.
Invasive species ranging from native to alien (such as water hyacinth, lantana camara, phragmites australis, typha australis) are identified in different areas in The Gambia. It is necessary to prioritize control and eradication efforts to those species which will have the greatest impact on biodiversity. Therefore, it is important to search for the most effective way that would address invasive species related constraints specific to the country. It is also crucial to put systems in place to monitor pathways to avoid or minimize the occurrence of newly introduced alien species (IAS). The implementation of the existing invasive species action plan is of paramount importance.
By 2020, Maintain integrity and functioning of vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change minimized at least 20% ()
Climate change and climate variation are negatively impacting ecosystems and consequently the well being of the populations that depend on ecosystem resources for their livelihoods. Therefore actions need to be put in place that reduce the negative impacts of climate change and climate variation. Furthermore, initiatives should enable affected communities to effectively adapt to climate change and climate variation through sustainable agricultural, livestock practices, integrated freshwater catchment management, and afforestation/reforestation programmes. The future REDD+ mechanism envisaged in Target 15 is also a major strategy to reduce GHG emissions as they address the direct and indirect causes of deforestation and degradation.
By 2020, at least 5% of terrestrial and inland water, and 10% of coastal and marine areas are conserved through systems of protected areas ()
Establishing effective protected area system has proven to be the best way of conserving fauna and flora. About 6.4% of the country’s surface area is designated as Protected Areas. There is a need to increase the area coverage considering ecosystem representativeness, connectivity and management effectiveness. Inadequate law enforcement, poor coordination, insufficient facilities and infrastructure, absence of wild life corridors, weak capacity and low staff remuneration are among the problems that need to be addressed in order to attain the target. There are encouraging efforts being made by DPWM, in their quest to restructure the Department into a vibrant Wildlife institution. Absence of economic valuations of PAs is another obstacle to conservation and sustainable use.
To realize this target, some of the PAs will require physical boundary demarcation and new management plans. It also requires establishment of additional PAs particularly Indigenous Community Conserved Areas and private protected areas. The ICCAs are being managed in close collaboration with local communities. These communities are fully engaged in governance and management of PAs. With the ratification of the Nagoya Protocol on ABS, the country is committed to implement benefit sharing mechanism. Carrying-out economic valuation of PAs is also important to give greater visibility amongst policy makers and integrate benefits from PAs into poverty reduction and development plans so as to ensure sustainability.
By 2020, 35% of known threatened and rare species have been prevented from extinction and 50% extinct species reintroduced or restocked ()
The Gambia was rich in biodiversity but due to illegal hunting, the fragmentation of ecosystems and forest fires, the country lost its most important species. Rapid population growth, urbanization, the destruction of migratory corridors and habitats of important species also contributed to the shrinking of suitable habitat for wildlife species. Due to the above mentioned problems some species became extinct and others threatened or rare. The conservation of such species is the utmost priority to the Gambia.
By 2020, 35% of the genetic diversity of cultivated plants, farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives is maintained ()
Due to limited capacity and lack of effective enforcement and follow up mechanisms for the implementation of the ABS, The Gambia government has acceded to the Nagoya Protocol on ABS in July 2014 but there is need to develop a legal framework to facilitate its implementation. The International Trypanotolerance Center (ITC) and the Department of Livestock Services are doing some genetic preservation of endemic ruminants such as the Ndama cattle, the Djalonke sheep and the West African dwarf goat. Therefore, concerted efforts are required to maximize access of potential genetic materials and equitable sharing of benefits accrued from their utilization.
Implementation of this target will require research to identify potential genetic resources for access (bio-prospecting) and knowledge management. It will also promote marketing of bio-prospected species, capacity building and awareness raising on ABS at various levels. Moreover, bio-piracy control activities will be conducted under this target.
This strategy intends to promote the preservation of genetic diversity through ITC, NARI and Department of Livestock Services programs and encourage academic research on genetic related issues.
Aichi Target 14 By 2020, poverty would be reduced by 10% of protected area dependent communities to reduce pressure on natural resources significantly ()
More than 90% of the local communities peripheral to Protected Areas are very poor and therefore, involved in the exploitation of natural resources for their livelihood. Almost all these communities are engaged in agricultural activities thereby affecting land cover and soil productivity. Increase population, and the high consumption rate of natural resources influenced by technology use (chainsaw and agricultural mechanization) has drastically impacted the country’s biodiversity.
The government of the Gambia is piloting a bio-right program for local communities living around Protected Areas in the form of bee-keeping, village banking, community woodlots and oyster culture. This initiative is meant to provide alternative livelihood to reduce pressure on natural resources. This target will contribute towards the establishment of sustainable financing mechanism for the benefit of local communities. It will assist in improving soil productivity and enhance biodiversity conservation. The DPWM will pilot conservation tillage in the North Bank Region in order to promote agro-forestry and prevent the use of mechanized agricultural practices. Discourage the use of chainsaw.
By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 50 per cent of degraded ecosystems ()
Conservation, restoration and sustainable management of forests, woodlands, wetlands and other ecosystems are proven and available means to sequester carbon dioxide and prevent the release of the other greenhouse gases. The coastline of The Gambia is eroding unprecedentedly affecting ecosystem, communities and species. Most fresh water wetlands are almost over flooded and invaded by phragmites spp, water hyacinth and typha spp. Due to sea level rise communities living in the fringes of Tanbi Wetland National Park are exposed to seasonal flooding. Climate change is responsible for salinization into rice growing areas and thus impacting the livelihood of vulnerable communities. Efforts to control salinization have subsequently caused mangrove diebacks.
There are huge efforts of forest ecosystem restoration through mangrove and other tree planting exercises. Increasing forest cover, designation of wetlands and restoration of degraded areas are the major activities required to realize this target. Protected Areas diversification which is underway in the Gambia will be strengthened to establish more Protected Areas, expand existing protected areas and ensure restoration of biodiversity within and outside biodiversity hotspots. Moreover, climate change mitigation activities in the NAPA and NAMA documents are being implemented. To optimized the use of runoff water through soil and water conservation techniques and to promote wetland engineering in communities prone to seasonal flooding.
By 2020, the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing is in force and operational ()
The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefits Sharing (ABS) is the third objective of the CBD. The Gambia has ratified the protocol in July 2014 and has successfully put in place a roadmap for its successful implementation. The roadmap entails issues that need to be addressed such as policy and legal arrangement, sensitization of policy makers, resource inventories, institutional arrangement and capacity building.
To implement this target, there is need to develop a legal norm by mainstreaming ABS into the existing Biodiversity Laws supported by a separate regulation. An institutional arrangement for the implementation of ABS will be defined by the regulation. Resource inventory and capacity building will be conducted to determine the current status. All these initiatives will culminate into awareness creation of policy makers and the general public.
By 2015 The Gambia would have adopted as a policy instrument, and has commenced implementing an effective, participatory and updated NBSAP ()
To fulfill the obligations under Article 6 of the Convention, The Gambia prepared its first Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (GBSAP) in 1999. After a decade of implementation the document was subjected to revision and updating. The GBSAP sets out the overall goals, principles and strategic actions through participatory planning and implementation for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in The Gambia. This revised document will further address emerging issues and all other associated issues and support its mainstreaming into policies, programs, plans of sectoral, cross sectoral and other relevant stakeholders.
Participatory stakeholder involvement throughout the design, planning and implementation of NBSAP is essential to ensure that the plans will be effectively communicated and implemented by the relevant stakeholders. Thus the updated NBSAP, the Fifth National Report and the creation of the Clearing House Mechanism (CHM) are the major outcomes of the revision process. This target shall endeavor the smooth implementation of its action plan and associated plans like NAPA, NAMA, PAGE etc
Section II. Implementation measures, their effectiveness, and associated obstacles and scientific and technical needs to achieve national targets
Strengthening National Policies Environment
In reviewing the action plan of NBSAP 2015, planned activities such as the review and update of the biodiversity and wildlife Act 2003, the development of wetland policies, the mainstreaming of ABS issues into the revised NBSAP and the development of a legal framework for the Nagoya protocol on ABS, remain to be implemented.
Even though there are plans under the available projects at the ministry to support the Department to successfully implement the related targets, numerous policy instruments supporting the use and management of biodiversity resources were developed. The Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) sectoral policy was developed by the ministry of agriculture in 2016 and a supplementary version on natural resources sub-sectors policy was finalized in 2017 to reflect the new orientation set by the country for the rational management of biodiversity across the board. During the period under review, various institutional strategies and action plan were revised and updated and this includes the supplementary ANR policy, the Forestry National Action Plan, Fisheries Strategy and Action Plan, National Climate Change Policy. The National Development Plan (NDP) was initiated as a policy umbrella of the country to address challenges related to Sustainable Development Goals and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (ABTs). There are plans through the GEF 7 to provide resources for the preparation of these policy documents and legislations and this should occur before the end of 2020.
So the ANR policy which expired in 2015 was reviewed and updated in 2016. The Ministry of Environment, Climate change & Natural Resources prepared a supplementary policy document for its line Departments and Agency in order to bridge the gaps identified in previous policy documents. In the same vein the Ministries of Education, Health, Agriculture and the Local Government policies, Strategies and action plans were reviewed to integrate biodiversity and climate change issues during the said period.