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Government Issues Warning Regarding Unauthorized Land Sales in Koto Balli Community Forest, Manduar

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The Minister of Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources (MECCNAR) 

By Buba Gagigo 

The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Natural Resources (MECCNAR) and the Ministry of Lands and Regional Government Affairs (MOLRGRA) have jointly issued a public warning regarding illicit land sales and transactions within the Koto Balli Community Forest in Manduar, Kombo Central, West Coast Region.

According to the government statement, the Koto Balli Community Forest, spanning one hundred and eighty-one hectares (181.0 ha), was officially designated as a community forest in 2020 under reference code WCR-BR 006, and retains its status as such under the Forest Act of 2018.

“This forest serves as a sanctuary for biodiversity and also plays a crucial role in maintaining environmental balance. Recent illegal encroachments upon the Koto Balli Community Forest threaten its integrity and violate the Forest Act, 2018, under which the area was designated as a protected community forest, as duly published in the National Gazette,” they said.

MECCNAR and MOLRGRA underscored that any land documentation obtained for parcels within the Koto Balli Community Forest is null and void, rendering any related activities illegal.

“All individuals and entities involved in land sales or transactions within the forest, are strictly warned to cease their activities immediately.

“Preserving the Koto Balli Community Forest is crucial for present and future generations, and MECCNAR and MOLRGRA are committed to upholding the law and ensuring the protection of our natural heritage. Any attempts to exploit or degrade this invaluable resource will not be tolerated. In addition, to an ongoing internal inquiry, commissioned by the Honourable Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources, a comprehensive investigation will also be undertaken by the Gambia Police Force, to crackdown on the illegal sale of lands at the community forest,” they said.

They further noted that the outcome of the investigation will inform the Government of The Gambia regarding necessary actions to address the issue within the next four weeks.

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