Gambia to ‘temporarily’ lift ban on timber export

Gambian authorities are lifting a ban on timber export to have remaining logs that impounded in the country exported, its environment ministry said Tuesday.

The temporal lift is to allow export of “stranded timber logs within the country and not meant for any new stock.”

Gambia’s government put a ban on redwood timber export in February after its former president, who was implicated in illegal timber logging was dislodged.

At least 14 trucks loaded with timber have been seized by Gambian and Senegalese security forces in Brikama, in southwestern Gambia, 13 miles from Senegal’s Casamance region, where the timber is being smuggled from.

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.

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