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Landscape of the Year Senegal / Gambia: Heading for new shores!
Traditionelles Weben im Village Museum in Tanji

Accompanied by a colourful social programme, the first African Landscape of the Year will be officially inaugurated in January 2018. At the beginning of this month, Mamadou Mbodji, President of the African Naturefriends Network, and Ingeborg Pint, NFI consultant for Africa, travelled the region to coordinate the activities planned for the years 2018 and 2019 with locals.

The Landscape of the Year Senegal/Gambia is the first Landscape of the Year on the African continent and thus assumes a special position. As a pilot project of the Naturefriends movement, it aims to illustrate how international solidarity can be put into practice in specific activities in the region and thus be sustainably established.

The selected region lies on the edge of the Sahel zone and is already marked by the consequences of climate change. This is why climate justice plays a vital part in the planned activities. Accompanying activities in Europe aim at a broad involvement of European Naturefriends. Furthermore, Naturefriends journeys to the region intend to enable personal encounters and intensive exchange as well as foster gentle tourism in the region, which constitutes an important source of income for the local population.

Following the successful political changes in Gambia, this country is currently experiencing an atmosphere of renewal which is the perfect precondition for cross-border cooperation in the border area of the two countries and for the activities within the Landscape of the Year. On their exploratory tour, Mamadou Mbodji and Ingeborg Pint were welcomed with opened arms and the ideas for common activities were met with enthusiasm. The locals naturally hope to welcome many European guests to their home over the next years!

Despite its barrenness, the region offers many scenic beauties such as the green hills, Baobab groves and the Gambia River with its diverse fauna. Prehistoric stone circles and many traditional festivities that take place regularly in the villages count among the cultural highlights. Naturefriends from the region and their partners will share all of these highlights with their European friends over the next years - the first opportunity is from 11 to 25 January 2018, during the "Tour d'horizon", within the context of which the opening ceremony will also take place.

"As Naturefriends, we now have this great opportunity of taking a pioneering role and initiating new development in the region - marked by intercultural understanding, good neighbourhood and international solidarity," says Mamadou Mbodji. And European Naturefriends now have the opportunity of bringing the traditional values of our movement, such as internationality, solidarity and global justice, to life.

Ingeborg Pint and Andrea Lichtenecker, May 2017

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