Clients: Department of Parks and Wildlife Management, The Gambia; The Global Environment Facility (GEF); WWF-Senegal.
The Gambia’s coastal and marine biodiversity is nationally and internationally significant and provides important ecosystem services to local communities. Although a set of conservation areas is currently in place to safeguard this heritage, biodiversity resources in the region face considerable and increasing pressure from a human population expected to grow at an annual rate 3-4% into the foreseeable future and nearly double to 2 million people by the year 2025.
Coastal systems are under particular threat: 91% of The Gambia’s population lives within 100 km of the coast,
and these coastal populations are increasing in number and density. Population density in The Gambia is already
among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. It is well known that coastal ecosystems (e.g. mangroves, wetlands) provide
important direct and indirect environmental services to people, supporting fisheries and preventing coastal erosion
for example. Human activities having direct and indirect impacts on these resources are also well documented.
For example, urban encroachment, industrial development, increasing agricultural activities, fuelwood extraction
and over-harvesting have all been cited as threats to the Tanbi Wetland Complex, a recently designated Ramsar
Site within the vicinity of Banjul in the Western Division. In short, coastal resources are finite. As
human population grows in size and density in The Gambia’s coastal zone, it will likely increasingly impact
the coastal resources on which it increasingly depends.
Protecting The Gambia’s coastal resources so that they continue to provide services to
people over the long term without degradation will require active and balanced
management of the ecosystem. Biodiversity – the sum of biological resources in the
coastal zone, from mangroves to local freshwater fish – is the immediate source of
resources on which people depend. Effectively managing these resources, therefore,
requires consistent, organized and relevant data to measure status and trends of biological resources over time.
To this end, we have designed a biodiversity monitoring system and database with several main components. These are:
- Focal targets, such as marine turtles, selected through a consensus-driven process
- Quantitative conservation goals for each focal target
- Indicators designed to quickly assess and communicate progress towards goals
- Monitoring programs to collect necessary data and measure progress over time
- Monitoring databases and other technical tools, such as GIS and remote sensing, for data analysis and storage