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07 August 2017

Fraudulent harvesting of Rosewoods ongoing despite gov’t ban – Apaak

Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South Dr. Clement Apaak has accused the Lands and Natural Resources Minister of supervising the fraudulent and illegal logging of rosewoods despite a government ban.

In February, John Peter Amewu announced a renewal of the ban on the issuance of permits for the cutting of rosewoods which first came into force in 2012 to protect the forests.

During a tour of some agencies under his ministry, Mr. Amewu explained that as part of the ban, the Forestry Commission has been directed not to issue a license for the felling of the trees.

But Dr. Apaak says the ban is not effective and accuses officials at the ministry of continuously condoning the illegal felling of the trees.

When asked for evidence, he cited two recent letters issued by the Chief Director at the Lands and Natural Resources Ministry, Prof. Bruce Brandeng-Yakubo, indicating the Ministry had given permission to two companies, Messrs Logsline Limited and Messrs Attakey Limited to salvage 8,000 cubic meters of rosewood in four regions.

The letters dated 5th and 6th July 2017 and addressed to the Forestry Commission conveyed the Minister’s approval to the two companies to salvage rosewoods in the Upper East, Upper West, Northern and Brong Ahafo Regions.

Dr. Apaak said: “the NPP government is not respecting its own ban and that is very worrying.”

Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Benito Owusu Bio has confirmed the authenticity of the letters. He is, however, is disputing the claim that the ban is being flouted. He insists the permits that have been given to the companies only allow them to pick already cut down rosewoods and not to fell new ones.

“The companies are being given a salvage permit to salvage rosewoods that have been felled and are lying in the forests. There is a ban in force. Nobody is allowed to fall any rosewoods,” he explained in an interview with Joy News’ Favour Nunoo.

But Dr. Apaak says the explanation is unjustified.

“Why do you issue a letter granting permission to salvage wood that is not even supposed to be cut in the first place…? This situation is bad and the sooner we stem the tide, the better,” he explained.

Dr. Apaak claims there exists a fraudulent gang that pays unemployed young people to fell the trees and go back to government and apply for permit to clear the harvested rose rosewoods.

“This is a very fraudulent excuse for persons involved in the illegal enterprise…. Who are those funding the illegal logging of rose woods? It is the same companies that the Minister and his ministry continue to give the types of permits that I have seen to,” Dr. Apaak told Joy News.

Rosewoods are timber species used in the production of luxurious furniture and musical instruments like guitar. They are considered endangered species and there has been an international ban on their sale since the 1990s.

Dr. Apaak is worried the continuous harvesting of the trees is endangering the lives and survival of the people in his constituency as it will expose them to the dangerous effects of climate change.

“The consequences could be very disastrous because we all know the importance of tree cover and good vegetation in influencing rainfall, maintaining soil fertility and preventing erosion,” the Builsa South MP explained.

He is calling for a total ban on the issuance of permits for the salvaging and harvesting of rosewoods. 

“This situation is bad and the sooner we work to address it, the sooner we can stem the tide of economic refugees who will troop to the southern part of the country because their source of livelihood is being destroyed by unscrupulous business men and women and their associates in government,” he added. 

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