Threats To Vegetation Diversity & Habitats In Gambia
Niumi National Park, located in Gambia, is home to three resident communities within its boundaries, as well as numerous others on its periphery. These communities heavily rely on the park’s resources for their sustenance and livelihoods.
Environmental Issues In Gambia, West Africa
However, the management of the park faces various environmental issues that pose threats to the vegetation diversity and habitats within the area.
One of the primary threats is the direct human impact on vegetation and habitat. This includes activities such as cultivation, logging, and the collection of fuelwood, fruits, and foliage. Additionally, inappropriate oyster harvesting methods contribute to the degradation of the park’s habitats.
Traditionally, agricultural practices in the area involved a rotational system that allowed land to fallow, enabling the regeneration of bushland during those periods. However, with the increasing population and higher demands on the land, the clearance of land for agriculture has become a significant threat, particularly to the plateau areas of the park.
Threats to Vegetation Diversity & Habitats in Gambia
Land clearance is often conducted through the use of fire, which can easily get out of control. Uncontrolled fires have a severe impact on the forested areas of the park. They not only kill or severely set back young regeneration but also cause damage to mature trees, leading to changes in forest composition and structure.
Studies conducted in neighboring Senegalese forests and plateau woodlands have highlighted the destructive nature of fires on vegetation. Fire has been identified as one of the most significant factors affecting the health and integrity of the vegetation.
Moreover, vegetation types associated with human occupation have been profoundly altered, characterized by a high percentage of introduced species, notably neem trees (Azadirachta indica), which often form dense monotypic stands.
Addressing these threats to vegetation diversity and habitats in Niumi National Park requires a sustainable approach that considers the needs and perspectives of the local communities while ensuring the conservation objectives are met. This involves implementing land-use practices that strike a balance between resource utilization and conservation, promoting alternative livelihood options, and raising awareness about the importance of preserving the park’s unique ecosystems.
Efforts to mitigate these threats should involve collaboration between park management authorities, local communities, and relevant stakeholders to develop and implement strategies that protect the vegetation diversity and habitats while fostering sustainable development in the region.