Business News of Thursday, 21 December 2017
Since February 2017, about GH?295,457 has been realised from the sale of 277 containers of illegally hewed rosewood impounded by government, John Peter Amewu-Lands and Natural Resources Minister, has said.
The minister made the disclosure when he appeared before Parliament on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 to answer questions on the quantity of rosewood impounded since government placed a ban on its harvesting and exportation.
He explained that: “According to our field reports, the total volume of rosewood impounded from February 2017 to date is estimated at 4,986 m3 (277 containers). The material was disposed of through public auction, and the total amount realized is GH?295,457”.
The ministry, he said, has not granted permit to any company to harvest rosewood in any part of the country, including the savannah regions of Ghana, since the current government came into office.
“When the current government came into office, there were existing companies whose permits were supposed to have expired on December 31, 2016; but most of the companies were still in operation. The ministry, therefore, constituted a taskforce to assess the situation and provide recommendations on how to enforce the ban on further harvesting of rosewood. The Forestry Commission was also directed to sanitise operations in the sector.
“Subsequently, there were several complaints that a large number of rosewood logs were lying in various locations across the savannah and transitional zones. A team was then constituted to conduct a quick survey of the logs on the ground to enable us take a decision. The field report confirmed that a large number of rosewood logs were actually lying in the field.”
Mr. Amewu also stated that as a short-term measure to prevent the logs from losing their economic value through bush fires and harsh environmental conditions, some companies were granted approval to salvage the logs.
Furthermore, the minister disclosed that arrangements are being made – in collaboration with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) and Civil Society Organisations – to introduce a quota system that will regulate how much rosewood is exploited in a given period.
On a long-term basis, a policy on Tree Tenure and Benefit Sharing for trees outside the forest is being discussed. It is expected that it will motivate farmers to resist the illegal exploitation of rosewood and other tree resources on their farms, and stop speculative felling by illegal operators.
Rosewood is mostly found outside forest reserves, where the Forestry Commission has little control over tree resources.
The ministry has expressed its readiness to collaborate with the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to effectively implement the measures.
Another long-term measure is to establish plantations of rosewood and promote local processing to add value to the material.