…As illegal cutting of rosewood gets alarming
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South Constituency, Dr. Clement Apaak, has requested that forestry officers be assigned to the Builsa South District immediately as the district does not have a forestry officer at the moment to avert illegal logging of rosewood in the area.
According to him, the forest officers would enforce the law banning the cutting of rosewood by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, as illegal felling, harvesting and export of rosewood continue terribly.
He said, beside the alarming increased rate of illegal felling of rosewood, the activities also endangered tropical hardwood specie, in the Builsa South District and neighbouring districts, including Builsa North and Kassina/Nankana areas.
Speaking to The Republic after raising the issue on the floor of parliament last Friday, Dr. Apaak, a former Presidential staffer, called for a thorough investigation by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) into the illegal logging of rosewood in the Builsa South District, and the perpetrators made to face the full rigours of the law.
While calling for the District Police Command to arrest and prosecute persons involved in felling rosewood, the Builsa South lawmaker also wants the perpetrators be made to plant and nurture trees to maturity in the affected areas as a compensatory measure.
He added that the police should work in collaboration with the assembly and the Forestry Commission to enforce the ban on rosewood logging.
In the interim, Dr. Apaak is also requesting the formation of a national task force to investigate why the illegal harvesting of rosewood continued, most especially in the savanna enclave of the country.
The task force, he suggested, should have representation from the key stakeholders, including Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Parliamentary sub-committee on Lands and Natural Resources, the BNI and the Office of the President.
The outcome of the work of the task force, he noted, should be considered in possible policy changes or modifications.
“We cannot afford to watch unconcerned and allow these illegal loggers to make huge financial profit at the expense of the poor masses whose daily livelihoods depend on a healthy environment.
“This callous, cruel and wicked environmental carnage is not only the result of utter ignorance but that of sheer greed for money and insensitivity to and total disregard for the fragile ecosystem of Builsa South,” he said.
Dr. Apaak recounted the first ban on rosewood cutting in 2012, which was followed by the confiscation of illegal rosewood by a task force set up to bring to a halt the illegal harvesting and export.
The second ban was announced in September 2013 to take effect in 2014, while a third ban was announced in July 2014, again prohibiting the felling, harvesting and exportation of rosewood.
“In spite of the current ban, rosewood logging is ongoing in my constituency: Fumbisi, Uwasi, Weisi, Doninga, Bachonsi, Kanjaga, Wiesi, Gbedembilisi, Yepala and several other communities in the Builsa South District.
“I can confirm that illegal loggers are actively pillaging the remnant forest patches in the savanna zone, including ours in Builsa South, and are felling rosewood in spite of the recent directive by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources banning the logging and export of rosewood,” Dr. Apaak bemoaned.
Rosewood is a fine grained timber used principally for the production of high-end expensive furniture for the elite across the world, especially in Asia (China). It is used also for making chess pieces, as well as parts of musical instruments. It is estimated that China alone imports close to 96 per cent of all rosewood lumber exported out of Ghana.
Dr. Apaak pointed out that rosewood harvesting and trade in Ghana started with salvage logging during the construction of the Bui Hydro Power Dam, and later the construction of the Fufulso-Sawla road.
He said the illegal loggers and criminals had started using Togo and as an outlet to get the criminal booty to designated destinations, noting, “the stolen logs are transported to Togo via Bawku for export, to circumvent the ban on export from Ghana.”
He averred that, the impact of the illegal logging activities on the already precarious ecological conditions and livelihoods were grievous, adding that Ghana, in the near future, would face worse climatic conditions, a declining agrarian economy and migration of environmental refugees from the savanna to the south if the practice was allowed to continue.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba