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Landscape of the Year 2018-2019 Senegal/The Gambia News (5)

© Eve Andersson/Gambia Tourist Board

Nature and biodiversity conservation in the "Landscape of the Year"  

The region chosen as "Landscape of the Year 2018/2019 – Senegal-The Gambia" is located in the vicinity of Koungheul (Senegal) and Janjanbureh (The Gambia) – two cities on the border of the Sahel zone – and is marked by the impact of climate change. On the Senegalese side, the effects on vegetation and biodiversity are particularly evident. The Gambian side benefits from the Gambia River, which plays an important role in maintaining biodiversity. 

This is where the River Gambia National Park is situated, approximately 40 km southwest of Janjanbureh. It covers an area of 580 km2 and is an important biodiversity reserve. It is also known as the Baboon Islands, named after the endemic Guinea baboon (Papio papio). The predominant type of vegetation is the tropical gallery forest with an impressive variety of bird species. Access to the National Park is strictly regulated. The Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Project (CRP) is a remarkable private project which is located there. Since the early 20th century there used to be hardly any chimpanzees living in the wild in The Gambia. Within the scope of CRP, this is where animals confiscated from illegal trade have been cared for since 1979, reaccustomed to a life in the wild and prepared for later release to the islands. The River Gambia National Park is characterized by an abundant avifauna and also other monkey species, hippos, warthogs and antelopes live there.

The Kunikilling Forest Park, too, is of major importance from the point of view of biodiversity conservation. It is located about 5 km from Janjanbureh in an easterly direction; it is managed under State control and is open to the public. The Park is managed by the Forestry Department in partnership with the adjacent villages. The partnership aims at promoting sustainable forest resource management. Gentle tourism programs have also been initiated, which are designed to raise awareness among visitors of the need for protection and conservation of the forest area. Visitors can watch the rich avifauna on several hiking trails and from an observation platform.

In the Senegalese part of the Landscape of the Year, the consequences of climate change, as well as of deforestation and bush fires have caused a dramatic decline of the typical forest-savannah. However, around Koungheul there are 131 hectares with four "Forêts classées". These are forests whose exploitation is regulated by the State. There is also the "Massif Communautaire de Mousdalifa", close to the border with the Gambia. Joint sensitization activities could be carried out there in the context of the Landscape of the Year, with a view to preventing bush fires and to avoid abusive deforestation. Naturefriends of Koungheul are also involved in the development of hiking trails to promote soft tourism.  

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