A Socio-Ecological Assessment Aiming at Improved Forest Resource Management and Sustainable Ecotourism Development in the Mangroves of Tanbi Wetland National Park, The Gambia, West Africa
Although mangroves dominated by Avicennia germinans and Rhizophora mangle are extending over 6000 ha in the Tanbi Wetland National Park (TWNP) (The Gambia), their importance for local populations (both peri-urban and urban) is not well documented. For the first time, this study evaluates the different mangrove resources in and around Banjul (i.e., timber, non-timber, edible, and ethnomedicinal products) and their utilization patterns, including the possibility of ecotourism development. The questionnaire-based results have indicated that more than 80% of peri-urban population rely on mangroves for timber and non-timber products and consider them as very important for their livelihoods. However, at the same time, urban households demonstrate limited knowledge on mangrove species and their ecological/economic benefits. Among others, fishing (including the oyster—Crassostrea cf. gasar collection) and tourism are the major income-generating activities found in the TWNP. The age-old practices of agriculture in some parts of the TWNP are due to scarcity of land available for agriculture, increased family size, and alternative sources of income. The recent focus on ecotourism (i.e., boardwalk construction inside the mangroves near Banjul city) received a positive response from the local stakeholders (i.e., users, government, and non-government organizations), with their appropriate roles in sharing the revenue, rights, and responsibilities of this project. Though the guidelines for conservation and management of the TWNP seem to be compatible, the harmony between local people and sustainable resource utilization should be ascertained.
KeywordsMangroves Socio-ecology Tanbi Wetland National Park Resource utilization Participatory methods The Gambia
This study was funded by the City Council of Oostende (Belgium). Special thanks are due to Tom Germonpré (Alderman in Ostend), Pa Sallah Jeng and Samba Fall (former and present Mayors of Banjul), Profs. Jonsyn-Ellis and Muhammadou M.O. Kah (former and present Vice-Chancellors of the University of The Gambia), Peter Vanslambrouck (Oostende–Banjul City Link Coordinator), Jacky Dereu and Mustapha for their courtesy and facilitation. Mr. Bah, Jatou, Kerai, Bakary, Dawda Badgie and Buba Carr Bah have helped us in both fieldwork and local language translation. Our earnest thanks to Abou and Ushman for their logistic support. Final thanks go to David Vande Wynckel, Mieke Vandaele and Prof. De Spiegeleire (KHBO, Oostende) for further engineering research on boardwalk construction in collaboration with the corresponding author. Authors are very grateful to the two unknown referees for their objective criticism and invaluable suggestions.
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