Monday, June 9, 2008

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The Gambia's capital city, Banjul, is located at the end of a peninsula referred to as Banjul Island or St. Mary's Island. Banjul grew rapidly until the early 1980s, when commuter services from the surrounding area were developed. Easy access to Banjul led to dramatic population growth in the nearby Kanifing District, from less than 12 000 in 1963 to over 332 000 in 2003. The pattern repeated itself as the Kanifing District became crowded in the mid-1990s and services and amenities were made available in the areas south of Kanifing, inducing many people to move there.

The sprawl of greater Banjul has led to the loss of forest cover and arable land. It is also putting increasing pressure on the Tanbi Wetland Complex, a mangrove forest located between Banjul and Kanifing District. Tanbi was recently designated a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance. These images show the dramatic increase in urban development in the Banjul area between 1973 and 2006, particularly in the Kanifing District. Some forest blocks (deep green patches) have survived; most of them are designated forest reserves. The Abuko Nature Reserve, immediately southwest of the Tanbi Wetland Complex, increasingly contrasts with the developed areas around it. The Reserve was set aside in 1916 to protect a water catchment and was made a nature reserve in 1968.
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