Villagers demanded the prosecution of alleged timber loggers arrested outside Niorro Jattaba farmlands

These are among the eighteen bush mango trunks that were cut down on villagers' farmlands without approval from the village or district forestry office.

By: Kebba Ansu Manneh

The villagers of Niorro Jattaba in the Lower River Region of the Gambia are demanding the prosecution of alleged timber loggers arrested on various farmlands outside the village on Friday, March 22nd, 2020.

The villagers expressed dismay at how forestry officials handled their last case, who failed to prosecute any suspects involved in a similar act the previous year. They are demanding a full investigation and prosecution of all alleged loggers.

According to them, eighteen bush mango trunks were cut down on villagers’ farmlands without approval from the village or district forestry office.

Sources said this is not the first time loggers have intruded on their farms and cut down trees, which are declining in the country if left unchecked.

TAT Investigations into the matter reveal that the alleged logging involved four individuals who cut down eighteen (18) trunks of Cordyla Africana, otherwise Bush Mango, that were destined for selling in the local market, noting that the villagers neither sanctioned the illegal cutting down of these trees nor the forestry department at Dumbuto.

According to Village Alkalo representative Jabel F. Bah, four individuals—two each from Niorro Jattaba village and Wudaba village—were arrested alongside confiscated timber on local farmland; additionally, the affected communities have notified the forestry officials in charge of overseeing affairs regarding forests within Dumtubo jurisdiction about these events transpiring thus far.

TAT contacted Lamin Bajo, the Regional Forestry Officer (RFO) of LRR. He also confirmed that four individuals were apprehended for illegal logging at Niorro Jattaba and have been sued at the district tribunal of Kiang West.

He added that the forestry department is invoking Section 87 of the 2018 Forest Act to lay the foundations for prosecuting the accused.

He highlighted that illegal logging is classified under Class 5 of the Forest Offences Act. ‘Anyone found wanting is liable to a fine between D20,000 and D30,000,’ he said, arguing that illegal loggers are members of communities who should understand that they are destroying their own survival on earth and equally that of current and future generations.

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