Gambia bans all timber exports to combat rosewood smuggling

Image credit: BBC

The Gambia has banned the export of timber and revoked all export licences in an effort to combat illegal logging.

Port administrations have been instructed not to load any vessels with wood logs while the ban is in effect.

A 2020 investigation discovered that Senegal was being used to import significant quantities of protected West African rosewood into the country.

In China, a significant percentage of it is utilised to make furniture.

It has been listed as an endangered species by the Convention on International Trading in Endangered Species since 2017. Last month, The Gambia was among seven countries urged to stop trading in it.

The Gambia frequently ranks among the top five exporters of West African Rosewood (Pterocarpus Erinaceus) globally, despite declaring its own stocks to be in danger of extinction almost 10 years ago.

In terms of both value and volume, rosewood is one of the most traded wildlife products in the world.

It is also referred to as Hongmu, or “redwood,” and is well-liked for its colour and durability. The primary use of this material is in antique-style furniture.

Between 2017 and 2020, China imported more than 300,000 tonnes of commodities from The Gambia, according to survey data.

That is worth more than $100 million (£80 million), or almost 500,000 trees.

 The rosewood leaving The Gambia for China started in the southern Senegalese region of Casamance, according to numerous informants examined throughout the course of year-long research in Senegal and The Gambia.

Along a 170km (105 miles) area of the border between the two countries, the survey found at least 12 depots filled with rosewood and other types of timber. All of them were located on Gambian territory.