The Violet Turaco, Musophaga violacea; with open wings the scarlet of the flight-feathers is striking. Not wholly dependent on climax forest but certainly typical of it – the reason the bird was chosen locally for the logo of Farasuto Forest Community Nature Reserve

A Management Plan for
Farasuto Forest Community Nature Reserve.

Management Plan update 27 March 2010

The Plan is complete, printed and available for download here.

John and Peter will be in The Gambia during April seeking affirmation of the Plan in the villages of Kuloro and Tunjina; they have been involved throughout its preparation. They will also be having meetings with government departments to secure support for the proposed works.

Applications for funding are underway in the UK and it is hoped to start work on the project in November 2010.


If everything went well for the Farasuto nature reserve the site might well be standing, much as it is, in a century or two. Why not leave well enough alone – why have a Management Plan?

Well, things change and things can, and often do, go wrong. Change is in the nature of life – it drives evolution and is bound to happen; it just does. Weather changes and in the longer term so does climate, irrespective of what man may be doing and we may be making things worse. Rivers can change course, deserts can extend, fires can devastate forests. And while nature will generate some changes man will certainly, by his presence alone, bring along more.

A Management Plan

To be as sure as we can about the future of any nature reserve it needs a plan which carefully considers its future and plots the way into it – a Management Plan. The plan can also help to set up a firm foundation for the finances of the site – because management costs money.

Part 1 of the plan. Description. What have we got?

The plan first considers what the reserve has. What are the habitats on site? Are any habitats rare and in need of special care, of conservation? What plants (the base of the food-chain) are there, and what animals (bird included) and are any rare? They may need special conditions to survive.

Besides the wildlife what other pressures are there on the place? People might want to remove dead wood for building or for fires or may want to fell live trees and make clearings for fields. There may be a need to extract water from the ground – we must drink.

Fields right up against forest (as on three sides at Farasuto) is not the best recipe for success – nature reserves fare much better if they have ‘soft’ edges – called buffer zones. At Farasuto there are already suggestions that adjoining fields should be moved away to create a buffer zone. Moving the fields will involve costs; new tracks, new fences and new wells or example – fine ideas but who pays? Can we include the costs of solar pumps at the new wells?

And people want to come and enjoy the wildlife; to be in the forest, hear the sounds and (especially at Farasuto) to see the birds. Can the wildlife take that pressure? Can more people come? How many will be too many? Should we have a people-free zone? The last thing we want is to destroy or reduce the very things we are trying to conserve.

Part 2 of the Plan. Evaluation. Set a vision and site objectives; where are we going?

This section summarises Part 1, sets a vision of how we want the place to be in the future and lays out the broad plans of what is to be done. It then sets objectives and considers what management activities are required to achieve them.

Part 3 of the Plan. Action Plan. What are we going to do and when?

This is the difficult part – a five-year Action Plan.

It sets out a list of projects – individual tasks which need to be done.

It sets dates for when the projects should be undertake and completed.

Part 3 works out what each project will cost and the total cost of all of them put together.

It should be possible to include the cost of a full-time Site Manager, someone on site who can make sure that Plan is implemented – to make things happened and keep them on time.

A grant has been secured to enable the preparation of the Management Plan for Farasuto.

In mid August 2009 we heard the good news that we been successful in securing a grant supporting the preparation of the Management Plan, precursor to a major grant bid for the necessary works. The grant pays for John’s expenses (not his time) to write the Plan by April 2010 when it will be delivered to The Gambia. The grant also covers:

  • costs of various survey work on site, notably its plants
  • much of the time and expenses of the KBC team working on the Plan
  • a few immediate management problems like gaps in the fence and some water level monitoring infrastructure.

So 2010 will then see applications for the resources to carry out works identified and costed in the Plan, works which could occupy a period of several years before the right future for an enlarged Farasuto is assured.