The chairman of the Association of the Wood Re-exporters and Foresters in The Gambia, Lamin Barrow, has called on all forest users, be they timber re-exporters, charcoal dealers, or firewood vendors, to be law-abiding for the development of the country’s forest cover.
Barrow, who was speaking in an interview with our reporter at his office last week, underscored his association’s commitment towards national development, saying his association has employed over 600 Gambian youths with a view to contributing to national development.
He highlighted his association’s contribution in national development, noting that it provides jobs for young Gambians who are unemployed.
"A typical example is that if you go to the timber re-export centre, you will find about twenty youths loading containers and each of them will go home with a minimum of seven hundred dalasi a day, which is a big achievement and an opportunity for the youths," Mr Barrow stated.
According to him, Gambian youth should not only focus on office jobs but also on technical know-how of viable ventures.
Mr Barrow said that since his association got clearance from the Gambian leader to operate, it had generated a lot of income for the state.
According to Mr Barrow, his association had already contributed six million dalasis to the National Forest Fund alone, excluding customs, Port Authority and Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The aim of this association is to bring all forest users under one umbrella to help the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment and the Department of Forestry to control and monitor forest users’ products.
"This is one of the reasons why this association was formed, to work directly with the department of forestry for the protection and safeguard of our forest cover," Mr Barrow said.
"We have been participating in so many activities ranging from anti-bush fire campaign, to trees planting exercise, at State house and July 22 Square, with the help of the security and the forestry officials and other development partners."
Mr Barrow used the occasion to call on Gambian people to work hand in glove with forestry officials for the safeguard of the nation’s forest.
"We should not allow foreigners to exploit our forest," he said, while also appealing to the department of forestry to re-announce to the Regional Forestry Officers that his association is existing on ground and that all forest users, including timber dealers, charcoal dealers and other stakeholders, should join the association in the best interest of the country.
"We want to expand this association to the rural areas and the best way of doing that is by involving the Regional Forestry officers in the process," Mr Barrow stated.
He also used the occasion to thank the Gambian leader for his support towards the association’s initiative, saying "without him the association would not have been existing in this country". "We are grateful to him," he added.
In conclusion, Mr Barrow said: "We promise to work closely with the department of forestry and the Ministry of Forestry and the Environment in the best interest of this country."