International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework In Gambia

There are many provisions for environmental protection in Gambia’s Constitution. The Preamble makes mention of sustainable development and an equitable distribution and use of resources. Section 13 outlines the Duties of Citizens, stating every citizen shall “protect and conserve the environment of The Gambia”.

Section 61 contains provisions for the right to a clean environment. It reads: Every person has the right to a clean and healthy environment, which includes the right to have

  • The environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations through legislative and other measures, particularly those contemplated in Chapter XIV
  • Obligations relating to the environment fulfilled under Chapter XIV Section 254 highlights the Principles of land, environment and natural resources policy. It states: Land, environment and natural resources in The Gambia shall be held, used and managed in a manner that is equitable, efficient, productive and sustainable, and in accordance with the following principles
  • Equitable access and security of land rights
  • Transparent and accountable administration of land
  • Sustainable exploitation, utilisation, productive management and conservation of the environment, land and natural resources, and the equitable sharing of the accruing benefits
  • Protection, conservation, preservation and sustainable use of land, environment and natural resources for the benefit of present and future generations
  • Protection of genetic resources and biological diversity
  • Establishment of systems of environmental impact assessment, environmental audit and monitoring of the environment
  • Recognition of the adverse effects of climate change on the sustainable use of land, environment and natural resources and the need to build resilience and increase adaptation to these effects
  • Protection and enhancement of intellectual property in, and indigenous knowledge of, biodiversity and the genetic resources of the communities
  • Sound conservation and protection of ecologically sensitive areas
  • Public participation in the management, protection and conservation of land, environment, and natural resources
  • Elimination of discrimination in laws, customs and practices related to land or interests in land based on gender
  • Encouragement of communities to settle land disputes through recognized local community initiatives consistent with this Constitution and other laws

  • Featured Legislation

    1977: Wildlife Conservation Act. The Public Service Commission may appoint a Director of Wildlife Conservation and Management and such other wildlife officers as may be necessary (sect. 3). The Director shall develop and keep under review plans for the rational management of wildlife in the Gambia (sect. 4). The Minister may issue an Order declaring an area of great natural beauty or of major importance for wildlife resources to be a national park. Such an Order requires approval of the Parliament (sect. 5). The Minister may also declare areas to be national reserves or local sanctuaries. No person shall hunt in national parks or reserves or adjacent areas designated by the Minister (sect. 7). The Minister may regulate matters specified in section 8 in respect of national parks, reserves or local sanctuaries. Part IV of the Act places restrictions on hunting of wild animals throughout the Gambia and provides for licences for hunting. Part V prohibits certain methods of hunting. Part VI restricts the sale of wild animals, meat or trophy. Part VII regulates the importation and exportation of animals and wildlife products. (60 sections divided into 10 Parts completed by 1 Schedule)

    1979: The National Water Resources Council Act was enacted to ensure water supply for domestic, industrial or other purposes; the right to safe and clean drinking water and basic sanitation; quality piped water; and sewerage.

    1988: The Environmental Protection (Prevention of Dumping) Act was adopted, creating guidelines to measure and deter illegal dumping in Gambia.

    1992: Gambia’s Environmental Action Plan (GEAP) was created to promote and implement sound environmental policy. The GEAP represents the culmination of a series of initiatives and activities coordinated by the NEA. It is the master plan for the environment in Gambia and contains a National Environment Policy, Framework Environmental Legislation and Environmental Strategy.

    1994: The National Environment Management ACT was passed. The National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) is the main document setting out the overall management of the environment. The NEMA is an Act of general legislation that provides a legal framework for activities in the environmental sector. The legislation criminalizes storing or disposing toxic pollutant products on the ground, the underground, on waters and in the atmosphere. It also recommends that the Government establish environmental quality standards in order to ensure the sustainable use of the Nation’s resources, focusing on the necessity of realizing environmental impact assessment (EIA) for projects and programs having negative effects on environment or public health.

    1994: The Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides Control and Management Act and Regulation was passed, implementing protective measures against particular hazards.

    1998: The Forestry Act was introduced to provide for the maintenance and development of the forest resources with a view to enhancing the contribution of Forestry to the socio-economic development of Gambia.

    2003: Biodiversity and Wildlife Act.This Act provides for the protection of biodiversity in The Gambia and provides with respect to the establishment and management of Protected Areas. It also establishes a Biodiversity Fund and regulates hunting and harvesting of scheduled biological resources and the import and export of such resources. “Biological resource” means a genetic organism or other biotic component of eco-systems with actual or potential use or value for humanity. “Scheduled biological resource” means a Scheduled biological resources listed in the scheduled or such other biological resource as may be specified by the Secretary of State by regulations published in the Gazette.

    2005: Electricity Act. This Act provides rules for the generation, storage and distribution of electricity in The Gambia. The objectives of the Act are to, among other things: (a) promote the generation, transmission, supply, dispatch and distribution of electricity in The Gambia for public, domestic and industrial purposes; (b) set standards relative to electricity services; (c) promote energy efficiency and supplies. The Act defines functions of the Department of State responsible for the electricity sub-sector. It shall, among other things, monitor and recommend policies regarding the effect on the environment of all energy activities and incorporate national environmental protection goals in the formulation and implementation of energy programmes. The Gambia Public Utilities Regulatory Authority shall administer this Act in accordance with the Gambia Public Regulatory Authority Act, 2001.

    2007: The Fisheries Act was signed, making provisions with respect to the management and conservation of fisheries resources.

    Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

    • Gambia is the third largest source of the highly coveted hongmu, a  species of rosewood used by global companies to make luxury furniture and art. Global demand, however, has endangered rosewood species such as Pterocarpus erinaceus, pushing these resources to the brink of extinction. Referred to as keno, this rosewood timber is illegally harvested and smuggled from neighbouring countries such as Senegal. A 2020 report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) illustrates the clandestine nature of trafficking operations in Gambia: approximately 1.6 million rosewood trees were illegally exported between June 2012 and April 2020, a clear violation of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The illicit trade of rosewood resources has led to political instability in the Casamance region of southern Senegal, where the illegal logging continues unabated. In fact, Senegal’s armed separatist group, the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC), acquires most of their income from the illegal trade of rosewood, threatening the human security of citizens who have been internally displaced by MFDC. Previous leaders of Gambia – notably, former President Yahya Jammeh played a pivotal role in controlling the rosewood re-export trade through a parastatal company, Westwood Gambia Limited, through which tens of millions of dollars’ worth of keno was shipped to China. Despite national joint initiatives to combat timber trafficking, imports of rosewood items have increased Between February 2017 and April 2020, with China importing 329,351 tons of rosewood from the Gambia. Westwood Gambia Ltd. is expected to be investigated for war crimes by NGO Trial International.

    References and Further Reading


    Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Natural Resources: