By Alhagie Jobe
Senegalese authorities have confirmed the seizure of more than a dozen trucks, hundreds of horse carts, cranes and thousands of illegal timber logs and kept them in several military posts in the region of Ziguinchor, Cassamance.
This major seizure according to the military command in the Southern Zone of the country is a positive step in the fight against illegal timber trafficking in the forest.
Earlier in May, an aerial footage emerged about a secret and illegal timber market at the Gambia’s border village of Sare Bodjo, emanating from the illegal logging in Southern Senegalese region of Casamance.
Ecologist Haidar El Ali and Senegal former environment minister at a press conference in Dakar highlighted the exorbitant amount of money Senegal has lost in the illegal business and the environmental catastrophe caused by the illegal business. He revealed that there are 6 illegal timber markets in The Gambia namely Sare Bodjo, Soma, Bureng, Brikama, Bansang, Gambissara.
Commander Serge Boissy of Diouloulou military post in the Department of Bignona confirmed the major arrest on Sunday during a visit to the region by Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo, the minister of Interior, Augustin Tine, minister of Armed Forces and Abdoulaye Baldé, minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development.
The delegation is on a nationwide tour to take stock on the progress made in the fight against illegal logging in the country’s forest especially in Cassamance.
Commander Boissy told the delegation that the fight against illegal logging over the past months have beard fruits as they have made important arrests and seizures especially from illegal traffickers from The Gambia. “The seizures are considerable’ he said.
After a stop Diouloulou, the ministerial delegation proceeded to Bignona where they have the highest arrests and seizures of illegal traffickers from The Gambia.
There, the Armed Forces in collaboration with the Forestry and Hunting Units confirmed that they arrested 122 horse carts and 10 trucks bearing Gambian registration numbers with lots of logs.
“We don’t even have any more space to keep the carts, trucks and trunks. The places are full because of the seizure. But we will not stop the operations” said Commander Djimanga Diedhiou, the regional inspector of Water and Forests in Ziguinchor. The delegation then traveled to Touba Couta in the town of Nyassia where the military post also seized 58 carts and 699 logs. There, Commander Diédhiou told the delegation that the figure there is only based on the sites visited, but the seizure goes far beyond what is stated if all the other sites not visited are included. He said the different security service units in the region are involved in the fight against this illegal trafficking and will continue to intervene so as to preserve the forest.
According to statistics released by Mr Haidar in May, more than 1 million trees have been illegally cut down since 2010 and Gambia has generated a handsome income of close to $240 million in sales to China.10, 000 hectares or 1 million trees have disappeared in past five years from Cassamance and there are 30,000 hectares of forest remaining.
Potential lost of another 10,000 hectares by 2016 if the trend continues saying the figure of one million trees is derived by dividing the total volume of exports from The Gambia to China since 2010 (419, 233 m3).
Cassamance has 30,000ha of forest remaining while The Gambia has just 4,000ha due to deforestation” he said.