In Gambia, the government bans all timber exports. A powerful measure to once again try to prevent rare species of wood – and in particular rosewood – from being transported illegally from Casamance, to neighboring Senegal. This species, which is in great demand in China, is at the heart of the Casamance conflict as it finances the separatists in the MFDC. But the new ban is met with skepticism on the part of the associations.
as reported from Banjul, Milan Berckmans
On Friday, the Gambian government announced in a press release: no more question to do take a single sign out of the country until further notice. A specific measure justified by the Minister for the Environment Rohey John-Manjang with the need for a more precise legal framework:
“The ban is intended to legalize, or better control, the illegal sale and export of internationally seized rosewood at this time”
On the part of civil society, the announcement is considered encouraging, but the previous bans lead to caution. ” It is progress, but at the same time, how can we be sure that it will be a real solution in the long run, wonders Maimuna Jabbie, from the non-governmental organization Green Up Gambia Because we see that some officials are involved in the export of timber, and the bans come, and then after a while the business resumes as usual.
The Minister for the Environment, she acknowledges the mistakes of the past, and points out the enormous challenge that this international traffic represents: “As I said, this has happened much earlier. Of course, there were shortcomings. This timber trade, we all know that it is international, it is a very powerful chain, it is like a drug cartel, it is very difficult to stop it. But we must be strategic, see the challenges and put in place measures that enable us to achieve what we want as a nation. “
According to a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency from 2020, since the latest ban in 2017, China has declared over 300,000 tons of rosewood exported from Gambia.