Portrait of Joof
Three Cairns Scholars

Baboucarr Joof, The Gambia

Goal: Restore degraded forest habitat to combat desertification and achieve carbon neutrality goals

For the past seven years, Baboucarr Joof has worked as a forest ranger — surveying rivers and mangrove health, advancing community forestry initiatives, and measuring indicators for the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Known as the global voice for land, the UNCCD promotes practices that avoid, reduce, and reverse land degradation, an issue to which Joof is deeply committed.

The Gambia has lost nearly 250,000 acres of forest to desertification since 2008.  Fortunately, more forest remains than has been lost. As a Master of Forestry (MF) student at YSE, Joof hopes to gain the skills needed for preserving his country's remaining forest while restoring much of what’s been cleared.

He also plans to connect his work on forest management to The Gambia’s long-term strategy to achieve carbon neutrality, but doing so requires careful research on how much damage has been done to ecosystems and what type of restoration programs would be most effective in particular locales. Agricultural settlements have arisen where forests once stood, and the residents of these new settlements must be supportive of and included in restoration efforts.

“At YSE, I have learned about the specifics of how disturbances shape forest structures and composition and, more broadly, about how forests and climate interact, and why we need to manage our forests with a keener eye toward climate,” Joof says. “It has become clear that YSE is the right place for me.”

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