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Ecological destruction is insult to Ghana – Apaak

By
Benjamin Mensah, GNA

Accra, July 4, GNA – Dr Clement Apaak, MP for
Builsa South says it is an“insult” to the country, when unscrupulous business
people and their accomplices engage in ecological destruction against national
efforts in tree planting and environmental stewardship.

He made a call on colleague legislators to
work to bring an end to the illegal harvesting of rosewood that had hit parts
of Northern Ghana, and bring the “criminals to book.”

In a statement at Parliament, Dr Apaak said:
“Mr Speaker, as leader and representatives of the people, 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.’
 

Rosewood is fine grained timber used
principally for the production of high-end expensive furniture for the elite
across the world, especially in China and other parts of Asia. It is used for
making chess pieces as well as parts of musical instruments. It is estimated
that China alone imports close to 96% of all rose lumber exported out of Ghana.

Dr
Apaak recalled that rosewood harvesting and trade started with logging during
the construction of the Bui hydro power dam and later the construction
Fufulso-Sawla Road.

“What started as legal salvage activities for
the removal of trees on commercial value within the catchment of the Bui dam
has turned into the biggest illegal harvesting and trade any timber species
ever in the history of Ghana,” Dr Apaak said.

A ban imposed by the Minister of Lands and
Natural Resources last February harvesting and export of rosewood had not been
effective due to lack of robust enforcement, and the Builsa South Lawmaker
noted that the illegal practice was still practised in the Constituency in
communities such as Fumbisi, Uwasi, Weisi, Doninga, Bachonsi, Kanjaga, Wiesi,
Gbedembilsi, Yepala and several other communities.

The Presiding Member of the Builsa South
District Assembly has also reported that efforts by the Assembly to stop the
illegal mining were not being complemented by the Police or the Forestry
Commission; and the District had no forestry officer.

Dr Apaak said it had been discovered that the
illegal loggers had started using Togo as an outlet “to get the criminal booty
to designated destinations, and the stolen logs were transported to Togo via
Bawku for export to circumvent the ban on export from Ghana.

He expressed worry over the impact of the
illegal logging, with looming attendant worsening climatic conditions with
consequent declining agrarian economy and serious migration of environmental
refugees for the savanna to the south, and more head porters nicknamed kayayei.

The legislator recommended a thorough
investigation to be conducted by the Bureau of National Investigation into the
illegal logging of rosewood, to bring the malefactors to justice, in addition
to being made to plant and nurture the trees to maturity.

Also, the District Police Command should be
instructed to arrest anyone felling rosewood in the Builsa South District,
followed by prosecution, in addition to the Police teaming up with the Forestry
Commission to enforce the ban.

Furthermore, a national task-force, with
representation from the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources, the BNI and the
Office of the President should be formed to investigate why the illegal
harvesting continued in the savanna zone and the outcome of the work of such a
taskforce should be considered in possible policy changes or modifications.

Dr Apaak called on the House to invite the
Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to furnish it with a report on how many
containers of rosewood had been impounded since the ban, their places of
origin, and how the Government of Ghana intends to dispose the impounded
rosewood.

GNA

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