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Jinack Island Development Goals – Conservation & Socio Economic Projects In Gambia

Socio Economic Development Plans For Jinack Island

Since 2005 we have worked closely with the community leaders, villagers and local craftsman on Jinack Island in Gambia. Together, we built and ran Djembe Fever Lodge and in 2014 we opened the Feel Free Lodge in a prime location on the beach.

We work with the people of Jinack Island to create, develop and manage a number of socio-economic development and conservation projects that will ensure the long-term viability of the Niumi National Park and the island of Jinack.

Improve the economic viability of the communities of Jinack Island

The first step to improve natural resource management is to ensure improvement of the economic viability of the communities of the island. The key driver behind most of the degradation of the resources is the subsistence level economic activity

No significant improvements to natural resource management will be possible unless alternatives to overexploitation of those resources are available to the community. Each community needs to be self-sufficient in food and energy production and foresee a future surplus and ongoing improvement in their lives, before they are likely to value the wider resources and plan and behave appropriately for the long term.

The Natural resource management plan should include:

  • Improve agricultural and fisheries practice and production on the island through new techniques and technologies;
  • Improve efficiency of resource use (especially wood) in the communities; and
  • Develop new products, services and markets for the communities.

Establish a community awareness building and training programme

Without building capacity amongst the communities to understand natural resources, the services they bring to the community and how to sustainably manage them, none of the other measures are likely to be successful.

Improved natural resource cannot be managed from outside the communities that rely on them. Short, medium and long term education activities will need to be an integral approach to the natural resource management plan.

Establish control and regulation of natural resources

Once the communities can see a better future for themselves and begin to value the wider management of their natural resources, it will be necessary to put in place controls and regulation of activities in different areas. Success will not be achieved unless the communities agree and engage with a wider natural resource management; and are actively promoting and policing it themselves.

The Natural resource management plan should include:

  • Detailed zoning of the island for different management regimes and socio-economic activities;
  • Fencing (and in the long term hedge establishment) to control management of stock;
  • Infrastructure to manage water; and
  • Access tracks for communities and visitors throughout the island to effectively and efficiently enable activities such as farming, sustainably collecting native products and accessing key wildlife viewing.

Establish programmes of natural resource enrichment

Once the communities are motivated to manage and police natural resources on a strategic and long term basis and have the controls and regulations in place, longer term enrichments to those resources could be effectively implemented.

Enriching the natural resources will undo some of the harm done in the past and will lead to a more sustainable and prosperous future of the communities. However, the enrichment of natural resources is a long term business and will not provide instant results in terms of food, energy or income. It will take significant resources and manpower to achieve, with the benefits only coming after a number of years (possibly a generation).

It is vital therefore that funding is available into the medium term to fund these activities, and in particular to provide income to members of the community to carry them out. Once agricultural and fisheries production has improved and new products, services and markets are providing significantly increased income, the management of the natural resources that support the activities that generate the income will become self-sustaining.

The Natural resource management plan should include:

  1. Native tree planting:
    1. Establish nurseries for establishment of native tree species;
    2. Community-scale long term agro-forestry for fuel and building wood production, using fast growing species;
    3. Improvement of agricultural areas through tree planting to provide shelter and reduce erosion and water loss, as well as provide resources for fruit or foliage collection;
    4. Replant native species of tree in wild habitats that are rare or provide particular benefit to wildlife; and to increase tree cover towards natural levels.
  2. Habitat management programmes to improve the quality of habitats and conserve endangered species such as turtles, manatees and clawless otters;
    1. Increasing biodiversity through manging habitats specifically for wildlife. Although high biodiversity gives little direct benefit to local communities, it is a fundamental indicator of the health of the environment and the natural resources that provide benefits for the community. High biodiversity will also improve the pest management for farmers, as well as provide a spectacle for visitors who will bring income to the island;
    2. Establishing visitor access and interpretation;
  3. Research, survey and monitoring:
    1. Identify key hot-spots on the island for wildlife in general, but in particular for endangered species or species of conservation concern to:
      1. Inform future conservation management;
      2. Inform visitor access and interpretation;
    2. Identify the potential for enrichment of natural resources including:
      1. Increased biodiversity;
      2. Increased potential for sustainable economic harvesting of natural products such as fruits, medicines and materials;
    3. Identify an achievable monitoring programme to monitor success of the enrichment of natural resources; and
    4. Carry out a programme of surveys and monitoring.

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