wood business has over the past months been facing growing setbacks coupled
with periodic heightened border scrutiny by military officers for its
importation in the country.
The business that is divided into two sections: domestic and the international wood consumption is in the midst of a crisis.
Ousainou A.R. Cham, the principal forestry officer and head of Technical Unit at the Department of Forestry, told The Point that the felling of forest ecosystem has negative climate change effect, adding that the forest mitigates the effects of climate change. “It ameliorates and regulates the local climate and induces rain, it also provides fodder for animals again,” he said. “It also provides nature for fertilizer controlling erosion, and helps in recharging our groundwater. You can see carbon dioxide is also stored in these trees.’’
He attributes that erratic rainy seasons are due to massive cutting down and mismanagement of the forest cover, while urging key drivers to implement stringent measures for the protection of the natural forest. “The step to ensure proper management and forest conservation, I think, we have all the policies and regulations in place. But these things are not definitely implemented. What we have to do is to fully engage the communities in the protection and management of these reserves; be it private or community forest park to build their capacities to train them and raise the level of awareness and in principal how to manage a forest’’ he posited.
He said there’s a need for border cooperation between Gambia and Senegal, in the drive to implement a regulatory mechanism for the sustainability of the natural forest. “The way Senegalese manage their forest is different from ours. There must be trans-boundary movement of the forest industry to save our forest,’’ he suggested.
Ousman Touray, a wood seller at Latrikunda Wood Business Center, said the intervention of ECOMIG forces with Senegalese troops at the border makes wood business difficult in the country.
He further recounted a series of challenges they have been facing; “the problems we are facing in the wood business are very huge compared with previous years. When ECOMIG arrived in the country, we encountered lots of hurdles, which sometimes resulted in the complete seizure of logs at the borders’’ he disclosed.
He blamed the Department of Forestry for their lack of efforts and non-cooperation to resolve the growing problem. “We have not seen their interventions,” he said.
Alieu Susso, a wood dealer, said the wood industry has been facing widespread corruption and unacceptable practices by police officers. He further added that one has to satisfy various checkpoints before crossing. “The wood sector is totally corrupt, there are certain areas they will charge you fees before starting any operation.’’