Authorities in two neighboring West African nations have teamed up to crack down on the export of rosewood timber, announcing a ban.
At least 14 trucks loaded with timber have been seized by Gambian and Senegalese authorities in Brikama, in southwestern Gambia, 13 miles from Senegal’s Casamance region, where the timber is being smuggled from.
Gambia’s Department of Forestry with its ports and revenue authorities are have been ordered to stop issuing clearance and licenses for timber export.
Ecologist and former Senegalese Environment Minister Haidar El Ali said if the timber export is not stopped, southern Senegal will lose almost all of its forest in two years.
Illegal timber exports along the Gambia-Senegal border amassed more than US$238 million in 2015.
The Gambia is only second to Nigeria in timber exports and has a ban on its exportation, but this does not stop the free movement of trucks and small timber processing factories freely operating in big cities like Brikama.
Senegal considers the timber illegal traded in The Gambia as ‘conflict timber.’ The low-level Casamance crisis makes it all convenient for local traders and Chinese middlemen to carry out the illegal trade without much hindrance.
Gambia’s new President Adama Barrow and Senegal’s President Macky Sall have pledged to work together to resolve the Casamance crisis and other issues that have strained relations between the two nations under former President Yahya Jammeh.
Jammeh’s administration in September placed restrictions on the importation of Timber and warned those importing logs into the country may be prosecuted after Mr. Ali called for sanctions on his regime.
The State House instructed the customs and border agency not to clear any logs to enter the country from Casamance.
At least 500 regional troops, more than half from Senegal are currently stationed in The Gambia to help with law enforcement and stabilizing the political crisis sparked by Jammeh’s refusal to cede power.