By Yunus S Saliu
The National Arts and Culture Center (NCAC), in conjunction with the Wassu community and other stakeholders, embarked on a tree planting exercise at the Wassu Stones Circle site over the weekend in the district of Wassu Niani, in the Central River region.
Other stakeholders who participated in the tree planting exercise included Wassu tour guides, visiting students from the University of Illinois in the United States of America with community support from Njawara, Njaw Women led by Isatou Ceesay, and the exercise was funded by NCAC and Kuntaur Regional Council.
The tree planting exercise is for heritage conservation by planting around the heritage site and also in the buffer zone as the Wassu Stone Circle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Commenting on the exercise, Hassoum Ceesay, Director General of the National Center for Arts and Culture, developed the exercise. He said the trees planted around the UNESCO World Heritage Site will serve as a green belt against bushfires. Therefore, the stone circles are located in a bushfire prone area in Wassu.
Also, it will help minimize the effect of bush fires on the stones as the trees clearly delineate the buffer zone “and there are a lot of land pressures in and around Wassu as well as in other parts of The Gambia”.
Therefore, with these trees planted, he said the buffer zone will be fully protected from encroachment and will also enhance community participation in the management and conservation of the Wassu stone circles.
However, a hundred people participated in the exercise while more than six hundred varieties of trees were planted with the technical support of the Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EBA) project.
DG Ceesay said that among other tasks was to ensure that the trees are well protected to allow the Wassu stone circle and the environment to become a green zone, to protect the site and to preserve it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.