By Madiba Singhateh
The Minister of the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources Lamin Dibba, said his Ministry has intercepted over thirty container loads of timber at the Gambia Ports Authority.
The Minister disclosed this information at a meeting he had with the ‘All Forestry Platform’ regarding issues concerning the Environment, its degradation and the cutting down of trees. Minister Dibba said those responsible in this trade and export of timber, will be taken to Court in order to set an example because they are engaged in the business of logs without permission from the Ministry and the Departments concerned. “We want to investigate the manner they are getting and transporting the timber,” he said; that they will take them to Court and whosoever is part of it, will face the wrath of the law; that a container of charcoal was even intercepted.
“And they all know that charcoal burning has been banned in this country since 1977 but charcoal is still available everywhere. All this is happening because of the attitude of the people. That is why we put an immediate ban on Timber export and re-export, when we came into office and we put a moratorium on all forms of timber exportation,’’ he said.
On the issue forest lands, Dibba said this has to do with the Alkalos “because right now we have an issue with two people and we are going to Court with them”, adding that they also have a problem with someone who wants to build a petrol station at the Tanji Bird Reserve because the person had approval from the last regime.
On returning forest land to communities, Dibba said that as of now, they have almost finished this process and soon some will be returned to the communities starting with the preliminary certificate; that 11,000 hectares has to be given out first as part of 200,000 hectares of forest land that is to be returned to the people; that this will help avoid conflict within villagers and between communities on shared forest lands.