It has come to the attention of the Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Management (CNREM) that, some presently unidentified person/s had received licence from the Forestry Commission to, ostensibly, collect rosewood that had purportedly already been felled at the Kalakpa Forest and Game Reserve situated between Abutia and Adaklu in the Ho West District of the Volta Region. ( https://www.graphic.com.gh/features/features/ghana-news-rosewood-the-timber-to-kill-for.html ).
This, of course, turned out to be a ruse to continue the extensive logging and destruction of the forest cover in the Reserve, as subsequent events and revelations show. The Ghanaian Times of 20 June 2019 carries news of the research by the Ghana Wildlife Society (GWS) , Kalakpa Youth Club and the Abutia Development Union which clearly exposed acts of the ongoing criminality in the Reserve, http://www.ghanaiantimes.com.gh/illegal-felling-smuggling-of-rosewood-200-containers-shipped-out-between-jan-2018-and-jan-2019/
CNREM would like to condemn in no uncertain terms the criminal actions of the Forestry Commission officials and the activities of the loggers who together just devised a lame excuse to log in the Reserve, one of few remaining true Guinea savanna forests in West Africa with big potential for tourism (https://kalakpa.com/), for their personal and parochial gains. One may like to know who are felling the rosewood trees, when was the licence first granted when even a prominent native like Elizabeth Ohene was not aware of the existence of rosewood in the Reserve? The Ghanaian Times report claims the logging has been ongoing for the past six years.
We at CNREM feel disappointed for the mere fact that, up to today, no legal action has been taken against the perpetrators (except some five arrests that the Volta Regional Police Command claimed to have made) in connection with the felling, collection and exporting of the rosewood timber. In the light of recent reports indicating that the felling and exporting of rosewood from Ghana is continuing unabated with the connivance of the Police, Army, chiefs and public officials, CNREM, therefore, would like to ask the following questions:
- Has any illegality been caused in the rosewood issue? If yes, by who?
- Can the Forestry Commission tell all Ghanaians that the entering, felling, collecting and exporting of the rosewood trees in the Kalakpa Reserve have all been done in accordance with the laws of Ghana governing such activities?
- Who should have acted, and has not yet done so, in their capacity as institutions or individuals, and in accordance with the law, after the news about the rosewood issue broke out?
- Are majority of dutiful, responsible and law-abiding Ghanaians being taken for a ride by some exploitative foreigners and a very few unscrupulous Ghanaian accomplices in their own land in the full glare and/or connivance of the authorities mandated to act and protect the country’s natural resources?
We, therefore, call on the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, as a matter of urgency, to start an impartial investigation into the circumstances that led to such an illegal logging activity; and more importantly, after a ban has been placed on logging and exporting rosewood and other endangered tree species in Ghana.
We also pray and hope that anyone found culpable would be dealt with according to the laws of the land and the appropriate punitive sanctions meted out to them accordingly to serve as deterrence to others.
We also wish that from now onward, the Ministry for Lands and Natural Resources, the Forestry Commission and the Wildlife Division would come out with measures, policies and programmes that will map out the country and let the whole country know which areas are meant for legal logging and which ones are not, as well as which tree species are legal to be felled. This, we believe, will safeguard and protect our already at risk forest cover in this 21st century, where reforestation campaigns are on top of discussions at international conferences and summits as mitigation and adaptation measures to fight climate change.
Mr Joel Degue