Gambians were full of hope when their new president Barrow was elected in 2016. Former president Jammeh was known for his love towards wildlife. Trees and forests however were not safe in any way.

According to a 2015 report on the Chinese rosewood trade, around 95 per cent of Gambian rosewood exported to China is sourced from southern Senegal.

Under former Gambian strongman Yahya Jammeh one company, WestWood Company Ltd., had an exclusive license to export timber.

Evidence has emerged that in addition to padding Jammeh’s private coffers, rebels in the Ziguinchor region of Senegal were also using proceeds from the illegal timber trade to finance their struggle for independence from the Senegalese government.

In 2015 Senegal’s President Macky Sall ordered the army to start patrolling the border area in a bid to clamp down on smugglers.

Soon afterwards, rosewood was added to a list of species for enhanced international regulation by the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Despite the ouster of Jammeh in Gambia in early 2017, the efforts of the Senegalese government, and the recognition by CITES, illegal logging in southern Senegal continues today.

Nothing has changed in the ‘New’ Gambia

Gambia has lost most of its forest cover under the Jammeh regime. Since new President Barrow is ruling the country, many environmental issues have only become worse.

The new government seems not to have any interest in environmental issues nor climate change.

With a government that has no real vision or plan how to improve the environment, problems will only become worse in the future. The Gambia will go hungry like never before.

In the name of development

This is only the beginning of a very difficult time where people will die. Our fish is sold to China, our trees are sold to China and our souls are sold to China. This government is doing enough to develop our nation but instead they are selling everything we have to China in the name op ‘development’

There are no reforestation plans and the plunder is going on full force everyday. It won’t be long until we completely degraded our land. Leaving us with no shade, no fruits and no groundwater.

To date, Casamance has lost over 10 000 hectares of its forests to illegal logging, representing an estimated 1 million trees. The Casamance forest area covers total of 30 000 hectares (74 000 acres) and is known for its rare tree species.

Gambia is losing forest

This includes rosewood, which is particularly high in demand in China. In May 2017, a prominent Senegalese ecologist and former minister of environment, Haidar El-Ali, warned that ‘within two years, there will be no more forests in Casamance’.

This includes rosewood, which is particularly high in demand in China. In May 2017, a prominent Senegalese ecologist and former minister of environment, Haidar El-Ali, warned that ‘within two years, there will be no more forests in Casamance’.

Credits: Musa Manneh

Also read: The silent destruction of Senegals forests
Illegal logging and poverty fuel

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