“In the years when logging was not happening, sometimes you did not see the sunlight in the bush because of the tree cover,” said Musa Mballo, a forest protection activist from Velingara in the Casamance region of southern Senegal. After a decade of intensive illegal logging, endangered Pterocarpus erinaceus rosewood trees are becoming increasingly scarce in the Casamance. Observers told Mongabay this is driving trafficking further into remote rural communities, such as Mballo’s home in the northeast of the region, damaging the environment and livelihoods. “Most of the community relies on agriculture, but now we have this trafficking, the edible fruits in the forest are not growing. Women, especially, don’t have enough resources to sell, some don’t go into the forest because they are afraid of the traffickers. A lot of people are negatively affected,” he told Mongabay. Palm nut processors in Bandajikaki village, Senegal. The palm nuts are harvested from the community forest. The women also act as wardens to protect the forest from illegal timber cutting. ©Jason Florio/United Purpose. The scale of the illegal harvesting and smuggling was recently revealed in a report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which found that approximately 1.6 million rosewood trees were illegally logged in the Casamance and exported from the Gambia to China between June 2012 and April 2020. Previous EIA investigations revealed how trafficking of protected rosewood in West Africa’s dry forests has become the largest in the world, supplying China’s rapacious billion-dollar market for hongmu, a type of rosewood…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer