Gambia: Casamance Forest Depletion Raises Concerns


The alarming signals sent by former Senegalese environment minister  Haidar El Ali  over a possible Casamance forest depletion in the next two years have sparked reactions from activists, politicians who are pointing an accusing finger at President Yahya Jammeh for allowing ‘an illegal activity’ to take place in Gambia.

“Gambian authorities should be held accountable for allowing the selling of timbers from Senegal’s protected areas via Banjul,” Amnesty-Senegal Director Seydi Gassama told this reporter.

On Thursday, Senegal’s former environment minister and activist gave disturbing account of the rapid depletion of the forest in the troubled region of Casamance due to illegal timber sales from Senegal to Gambia. These revelations come at a time when the 3 month-long border blockade has been brought to an end as traffic vehicles resumed this week within the border between the two countries.

Seydi Gassama said the Jammeh regime is aware of the illegal trade, and continues to play a key role in the export of logs through Banjul port.  “Even if the activity has provided an economic boost to Gambia, it remains illegal and is against both regional and international laws.”

Gassama also blamed the Senegalese government for failing to take action against an activity that is bound to destroy people’s livelihood.

Former Gambian plenipotentiary to Taiwan Essa Bokkar Sey blasted Gambia authorities for masterminding the illegal logging activity in connection with Chinese syndicates. “Indeed the crime is being coordinated by Banjul’s Cartel in collaboration with Chinese lumberjacks,” he said.

He then warned that worse days are lying ahead between Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh and the Senegalese State.

Over these past years, the Casamance crisis has increasingly been turned into lucrative business activity by Banjul. Gambia in deepening its involvement in the timber industry raises concerns over ecological crimes being committed in Southern with the destruction of the existing ecosystems…

Written by Abdoulie JOHN

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