– Despite Ban
Government claim of having banned the felling, harvesting and exportation of rosewood in the country back in February, this year, appeared to be a tactical deception as over 25 companies have been granted permit by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, as well as the Forestry Commission, to harvest rosewood in the Upper East Region, The Republic investigating team can confirm.
Some documents intercepted by The Republic proved uncontested evidence of about 25 different companies being approved to go into the forest catchment areas of the region, mostly in the communities where the rosewood is grown, to harvest for commercial benefits.
In the Upper East Region, the land is thick with rosewood – some grown naturally, while people plant some and manage the forests. They rely on its soil-grabbing roots to stabilize steep slopes and riverbanks, preventing erosion. But now it has become economical and they harvest it to burn for fuel, to make into charcoal sticks to sell to city dwellers for building and for furniture, among others.
The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Peter John Amewu, in February, this year claimed that there was ban in force against the illegal logging of rosewood in the country, when the issue came up in the media.
However, contrary to that statement, it has been discovered that the ban on rosewood harvesting is not in force, as documents intercepted by this paper, prove of grant of permit to enter the forest and harvest.
It is not clear what motivated government to approve 25 companies to go into the forest belt in the Upper East Region and harvest rosewood.
The application letter of one of the companies, Ken Asa Plus Limited, dated 25th August 2017, reads,” Application for Registration to Property mark to Harvest Rosewood in the Upper East.”
Our investigation revealed that Ken Asa Plus was incorporated into business on 10th April, 2017 to commence, but what is more questionable and disturbing is how the newly-registered company won the bid to harvest rosewood, without experience.
Another letter dated 16th day of August, 2017 from the Forestry Commission and addressed to the Upper East Regional Manager of the commission, headlined, “Approval for grant of permit to salvage Rosewood.” is directing the beneficiary companies to start work on 21st August, 2017.
The most mind-boggling on this smelly deal of illegality is that, Ken Asa Plus’ application letter for permit to harvest rosewood is dated 25th August,2017, but the approval letter to go into the forest and harvest is dated 16th August, and to take effect on 21st August,2017.
The companies include Messrs Jusdah Company Limited, Chrisgyaf, Turnsole Furniture Limited, Xglagi Limited, Musco Asante Limited, Kamvis Limited, Royal Space Limited, JB Comnect Limited, Membo Limited and Atakey Limited.
The rest are Ghanwood Limited, Sonturk Investment Limited Trucking Construction Limited Delwinde Enterprise, System Enumon-Tech, Igram Limited, Trans Atlantic Logistics, Nicdam Venture Limited, Softrade Impex Limited, Steven Abundant Graces Limited, Ken Asa Plus and K. Gyamfuaa Co. Limited
What many do not know is that, the harvest of rosewood has the tendency of opening up the region for environmental degradation, weaken the fertile soil and become susceptible to desert.
However, Dr. Clement Apaak, Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South, who has been battling government against the harvest of rosewood is perturbed over the development.
He confirmed to this paper of illegal harvest of rosewood ongoing in his constituency and threatened to invite the Minister of Lands and a Natural Resources, John Peter Amewu, before parliament to explain why some companies had been granted permit when there is supposed to be ban in place.
He said the application letter by Ken Asa Plus, seeking permission to harvest rosewood, deflates an initial explanation by the minister that the companies were to salvage and not to harvest.
According to Dr Apaak, he has some documents which suggest that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and its agency, Forestry Commission, had awarded contract companies to fell the rosewood for exportation.
“There’s a lot going on with regard to harvest of rosewood which the media is not averse to. It is important that I raise these issues. It is clear that the Ministry of Lands and Forestry has given authorisation to some 25 companies to engage in illegal felling of rosewood trees of which a container of rosewood trees cost thousands of dollars,” Dr. Apaak said.
The Builsa South MP contended that, the move by the ministry contravened the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) project, which is aimed at protecting the vegetation in the north of the country.
Currently, he said, “in some districts in the Upper East Region, Builsa South, Binduri and Garu-Tempani, for instance, rosewood harvesting and logging is ongoing, exposing the areas to environmental degradation and at the expense of the districts, the chiefs and farmland.
This, he said, runs contrary to the entire SADA vision of afforestation and green moth where government sinking millions of cedis in tree-planting exercises all in an attempt to reclaim the environment.
In his view, the government has no business allowing these companies to go ahead destroying the vegetation already in the savannah areas where the ecology is challenged.
Dr. Apaak added that, the ministry and its Forestry Commission have no business whatsoever approving the felling of these trees in an area that is close to the savannah and almost entering the Sahel where the previous government anchored its vision on accelerated development.
“What does any company have to do with logging rosewood or trees in an area where government is sinking money into planting of trees?” He questioned.
He noted that, what is worst of all was that, “The districts in which these rosewood is being felled are not benefiting whatsoever. The chiefs and people, I, myself, have had cause to complain to the ministry and other government officials, but nothing has happened. The destruction is going on and I do not know when it would end.”
Dr. Apaak, who is also a former presidential staffer, reiterated his call for a thorough investigation by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) into the illegal logging of rosewood in the Upper East Region, and the perpetrators made to face the law.
Hon. Dr. Robert Baba Kuganab-Lem and Hon. Albert Akuka Alalzuuga, MPs for Binduri and Garu, respectively, also confirmed of ongoing illegal logging of rosewood in their areas.
The Binduri MP, who sounded very angry over the development, questioned why government granted permit for harvesting of rosewood when it did not plant trees in the area, stating that, “government does not have the right to authorize or grant permit to companies to harvest rosewoods in our communities.”
He urged the government to revoke the supposed licences and withdraw their operation, adding the illegal logging is not only degrading the environment but denying the future generation of livelihood, as the trees serve as shed and control erosions on farmlands.
Hon. Alalzuuga, who is the immediate former district chief executive of Garu said, under his administration, such activities were not permitted and expressed surprise that government that supposed to lead the crusade to protect the environment is rather granting approval for logging of trees.
He joined his colleague MPs to call for immediate suspension of the licences supposedly granted and ensure that no further activities of such nature is visited on rosewood in the region.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba