Project summary The Gambia’s rural development and poverty reduction strategies emphasize the need to reverse stagnating agro-sylvo-pastoral productivity while safeguarding its rich natural resource base and unique biodiversity assets. However, efforts toward these goals are being seriously hampered by the degradation of land and seascape resources, as well as a decline in the ability for land and seascapes to provide the environmental services to support productive socio-economic systems. Across many areas of The Gambia, the degradation of land and seascapes is occurring in advanced stages. The root causes of land degradation include inappropriate land use, increased competition over land, unsustainable agricultural practices, overgrazing, and deforestation. While efforts have been made at different levels to address some of these threats to the sustainable use and management of land and seascape resources, success remains patchy. Some of the key barriers to achieving meaningful progress in the sustainable management of land and seascapes in the Gambia include: (i) Inadequate land use and land right policies and lack of institutional capacity for land use planning. (ii) Absence of planning processes and local capacities/support to enable the integrated application of sustainable land management measures. (iii) Lack of experience and models for integrated land use planning and management that supports sustainable land management practices and reduces negative impacts on key biodiversity habitat from adjacent productive landscapes. (iv) Inadequate protection of marine and coastal ecosystems and lack of experience and capacity for marine protected area management. The objective of this project is to create an enabling environment for The Gambia in building national capacity to lead the reform of land use and marine spatial planning policies and to implement land/seascape level management that conserves ecosystem services in productive and protected land/seascapes. The project will contribute to the removal of barriers to sustainable land management, biodiversity management, and integrated natural resources management in the Gambia by (a) Improving planning and enforcement systems to identify and address causes of land degradation and biodiversity loss; (b) Developing an enabling framework for the implementation of sustainable land management practices across landscapes; (c) Supporting the implementation of integrated land use plans and strengthening of protected area 1 management to achieve sustainable land management and biodiversity objectives; (d) Expanding protected areas to encompass unmanaged ecologically important areas of The Gambia. On the ground, these efforts will amount to significant transformations in terms of area under sustainable land management and integrated natural resources management, as well as outcomes on the social and economic wellbeing of local populations. Examples of such transformations include: increase in protected areas coverage in the Kuntaur LGA with 10,000 ha; increase in ecological connectivity covering 100,908 ha between and within different priority biodiversity habitats; the creation of four Indigenous Community Conserved Areas covering 10,000 ha; the creation of two new Marine Protected Areas covering 18,000 ha; etc. The carbon benefits from the project estimated in terms of lifetime direct as well as consequential GHG emissions avoided over a time horizon of 20 years are 111,511 tCO2eq. In addition to these landscape/seascape and land resources benefits, this project will contribute to gains in human and institutional capacity development. Training and awareness raising programmes for integrated natural resources management adoption and dissemination will be developed and implemented at the local level; multi-sectoral stakeholder committees will be established to facilitate dialogue on sustainable land management and biodiversity conservation; and spatially-based decisionmaking system for Integrated Natural Resource Management will be developed to improve natural resources management at the local and national level
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Project title: Land/Seascape planning and restoration to improve ecosystem services, and livelihoods, expand and effectively manage protected areas (GEF 6)