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Environmentalists want illegal logging stopped in Guinea

7 Jan 2011

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Tracking chimpanzees in Guinea, an endangered species, in an endangered habitat.

Their home is under attack from illegal logging, in a country with few resources to stop it..

Alseny Diallo is the local forest manager. "We have just found traces of illegal loggers, in this area, which is called Pantaoro, an enclave in the protected forest of Soya. This deforestation is the result of the recent general elections which means that there are few forestry officers on the ground."

More than a quarter of the country is still forested but that is nearly ten percent less than it was 20 years ago.

As many as ten companies are exporting timber from Guinea - fewer than half of them licensed to do so.

Foret Forte is one of the main exporters - they say the illegal trade is undermining their attempts to manage the forest sustainably.

Jean Marie Petit, Manager, Foret Forte: "We normally cut down trees with diameters that measure at least 60 centimeters. Sadly though, we've seen that when we leave an area some loggers follow us in and chop down all the trees we've left behind."

Only a fraction of Guinea's forests are officially protected and its is up to voluntary organizations like Flora and Fauna International to try to protect the rest.

Here, they are mapping sightings of animals that live in this area - trying to encourage local villagers to protect their habitat.

Mohammed Bangoura, Faun and Flora International: "In the forest region, we have protected reserves such as Ziama and Mount Nimba which is a world heritage site, because there are over 60 endemic species of animals that live here."

Environmentalists say protecting Guinea's rich forests has been too low a priority for too long and they are urging the new president, sworn in just last month, to do more to protect an irreplaceable resource which is fast disappearing.