By Madiba Singhateh
Rosewood is still being exported from the country despite a ban on cutting down this tree and trading in its products.
Rosewood is listed among the internationally endangered species of wild flora and fauna.
Recently, reports reaching the medium indicate that about 38 containers of Rose wood is loaded in containers and is lying at Gambia Ports Authority for shipment.
Visiting the Ports in Banjul, the reporter could not be granted entry to speak to the people believed to be in charge of those containers.
Some officials of the Department of Forestry in West Coast Region told this reporter that “rose wood cannot be exported from The Gambia without the approval of the Gambian authorities, because they are the ones who banned the importation and exportation of the timber.”
One of the officials said, “Government is responsible for issuing license to people for the exportation of logs.” He went on to question how some dealers obtained documents that facilitate the transportation and exportation of logs out of the country
He said most of the rosewood sold in the country is not harvested in the Gambia, but neighboring Cassamance in Senegal.
The Official said even when consignments of rosewood are intercepted; authorities at higher level always intervene for the release of the vehicle transporting the logs.
Timber dealers along the Kembujeh and Serekundaring road told this reporter that they do not export logs out of the country.
They also denied selling rose wood and said all they trade in is Mahogany and other woods which they get from the forests within country.
Musa, a timber dealer, said they neither go to the forest to buy logs, nor do they cut down trees for logs.
He said they wait for people selling logs to come to their work places and they buy from them. He said the price of a truck load of logs ranges from D25 000 to D150, 000. He was however quick to point out that they do not know anything about the exportation of logs.
Kanimang Camara from NACO, a local based NGO working with Community Forest Parks said, “The law is clear on the movement of logs especially products that cross the border into country.”
He said the law states that all forest products entering the Gambia have to go through recognized ports of entry.
He added “Individuals with those products have to get import license and the produced has to be accompanied with a certificate of origin, which has to be there before custom officials can process the documents for the duty to be paid.”
He said when a certificate of origin and a valid license from the Department of Forestry is produced by the dealer, and then the custom officials can process it.
Studies have confirmed that uncontrolled and indiscriminate cutting down of trees lead to deforestation and results in climate change which causes low rainfall and global warming.
The reporter would arrange interviews with senior staff of the Department of Forestry and Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.