NFINL01/18: AFRICAN Landscape of the Year is here!
A Landscape of the Year that will move you!
Manfred Pils, President of Naturefriends International, took part in the opening ceremonies of the Landscape of the Year Senegal/the Gambia. Here is what he experienced:
A fantastic opening ceremony On January 13, 2018 more than 800 people in colourful clothes came together in Koumbidja Socé, about 300 kilometres from the Senegalese-Gambian border. Every group wore traditional masks and showed traditional dances to honour the guests. Speeches accompanied the dances. This was the fantastic opening ceremony of the Landscape of the Year 2018/19 – Senegal/the Gambia. The chosen motto “Living climate justice” was printed in English and French on T-shirts worn by our hosts from Senegal. A memorial stone can be found in remembrance of the opening of the first African Landscape of the Year, the first one outside of Europe. In addition, many, many fruit trees, which were planted after the festivities by both African and European Naturefriends together with the local community, will serve as reminders as well. Village tourism and developing the civil society We had similar experiences in the Gambia, where also 800 people came to the Kankurang festival in Janjanbureh. The masks and their meaning were now easier to understand, especially since there is a museum about the culture behind the masks right next to the fairgrounds. After the regime change last year, the Gambia is on its way towards democracy. The civil society is just starting to develop – so it was not easy to find partners for the Landscape of the Year. Thus, the large crowd at the festival was even more special. One of the priorities within the Landscape of the Year is the development of community based tourism – a tourism which creates income for the local people. This country should be able to achieve this: The Gambia River is a big lifeline with many nature reserves where wildlife such as chimpanzees, crocodiles or hippos can be found.
Trees for the future
One of the highlights of the opening ceremony of the new Landscape of the Year was the fruit tree planting in three villages, done by African and European Naturefriends together with the local community. In the dry Sahel region trees are essential for survival – especially fruit trees are important: They provide shade, they prevent erosion, create a healthy food supply, which can also be sold, and every tree is important for climate protection. So that the trees can grow they need to be watered at least three times a day and the leaves of each tree need to be protected so they are not eaten by goats or other animals. Naturefriends want to plant more than 2.000 trees together with the local community. Before each tree planting, extensive talks and a training on how to take care of the trees need to happen, to get the whole community on board in order to keep the trees alive.
The tree plantings are financed through the Naturefriends Climate Fund
From "Landscape of the Year“ to "
Landscape of the Year“
Since 1989 NFI declares a border region which is environmentally valuable to be the “Landscape of the Year”. Now a big step has been taken and the Landscape of the Year moved from Europe to Africa for the first time. For the opening festivities, a delegation from the previous Landscape of the Year (2013/14 – Upper Rhine Valley) brought gifts – to show the solidarity to the new Landscape of the Year and to encourage the people in charge. Landscape of the Years are always cross-border, rivers always play an important role – often as the border – and the bridge is an important symbol. Also this time.
Uschi Böss-Walter und Roland Walter from Naturefriends Rastatt gave Cheikh Diakhaté, President of Naturefriends Koungheul, a plaque showing a picture of a bridge across the Gambia River, as well as a statue which symbolizes the connection between the three countries of the Landscape of the Year Upper Rhine Valley and the two countries of the Landscape of the Year Senegal/the Gambia.
Please find here the speech given by the delegation from the previous Landscape of the Year for the opening ceremony on January 13, 2018 in Koumbidja Sossé --->