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Illegal timber logging threatening Ghana’s water sources

By
Lydia Asamoah, GNA

Accra, Aug 23,
GNA – Illegal timber logging has been identified as a major threat to Ghana’s
forest which also serve as the sources of most of the river bodies that is used
by the people.

Most rivers including
the Densu which hosts the Weija dam that produces water for most people in the
Greater Accra Region have its source from the Atewa forest located in the
Eastern Region.

It is estimated that
about 80 per cent of all wood sold in the country are acquired illegally from
Ghana’s forest and the government is the highest consumer of such illegal wood also
known as bush cut, as a result of various infrastructural projects that it
engages in.

During a two-day media
training workshop on the Public Procurement Policy (PPP) on Timber and Timber
Products in Ghana, organized by the Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), an
NGO with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), media
personnel learnt that most of Ghana’s forest cover was critically threatened
amidst indiscriminate timber logging being done by chainsaw operators without
regard to the laws. 

Meanwhile the status
of the Public Procurement Policy on Timber and Timber Products which the
country started developing in 2012 to help guide how timber products could be
sourced and used, is in limbo as its now being shelved.

Ms Matilda Appiah,
Project Officer of NDF, said in an expression of commitment to show leadership
in addressing illegal logging and trade in timber and timber products, and to
support the development of sustainable forest management, the Government
through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) and the Timber
Industry Development Division (TIDD) of the Forestry Commission started the
development of the PPP on Timber and Timber Products for the domestic market.

She said the aim of
the PPP was to use the purchasing power of government procurement to signal the
market in favour of legally and sustainably produced timber and timber
products.

She said to support
the Government’s effort at sanitizing the forestry and timber sector, the NDF
with financial assistance from the FAO, collaborated with the MLNR and the TIDD
to develop implementation guidelines for the policy.

She said the NDF also
helped trained regional, metropolitan, municipal and district level procurement
officers from the Ashanti and Greater Accra regions on the guidelines and the
policy to ensure effective implementation.

“However, after these
actions, much has not been done in getting the policy passed,” Ms Appiah noted.

Mr Glen Asomaning,
Operations Director of NDF, said since the beginning of the century, Ghana’s
forest cover which was 8.2 million hectares had reduced to 1.6 million hectares
in present times due to many illegal activities being perpetuated through deforestation,
high demand for arable land, as well as weak enforcement of laws.

He said the state of
the world forest was not too good and that of Ghana had become so critical as
the country loses 55,000 hectares of forest annually and that if sustainable
forestry management was not adopted it would be very detrimental to the
survival of current and succeeding generations.

Mr Mustapha Seidu,
Director of NDF urged Ghanaians to stop patronizing illegal timber from the
market usually brought in by chainsaw operators which usually look shorter in
length than the legally cut wood and also have rough edges most of the time.

He said most of the
illegal wood usually does not last longer when they are used for building and
other construction projects because the chainsaw operators always cut any wood
in the forest without recourse to any regulations, making people to incur more
cost”.

“People should ask for
sawmill wood, which are highly susceptible to be from legal timber,” he
advised.

The purpose of the
media training was to give participants an exposure to the public procurement
policy on timber and timber products, and to build capacity of journalists to
follow up on appropriate authorities to ensure that Ghana’s forest cover was
properly maintained to save humanity.

GNA

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