General News of Friday, 25 May 2018
Stakeholders in Sissala East Municipality of Upper West Region have gathered to discuss ways of stopping illegal felling of rosewood that has recently posed grave threat to agricultural activities and the environment.
Traditional rulers, Assembly members, representatives of civil society organisations, politicians and religious and opinion leaders in the Municipality who met on Wednesday also deliberated on how to curtail recurrent smuggling of subsidised fertilizer to neighbouring West African countries.
Speaking during a stakeholder engagement meeting in Tumu, the capital of Sissala East Municipal, Mr Moses Dramani Luri, the Executive Director of Social Initiative for Literacy and Development Programme (SILDEP), said the issues of illegal rosewood cutting and annual smuggling of fertilizer had serious implications on livelihood of the residents.
Over 80 per cent of people in the Municipality engaged in agricultural activities for living, which Mr Luri said illegal rosewood harvesting and fertilizer smuggling posed long term negative impact on farmlands and the environment which the people depended on.
He called on stakeholders to avoid “suspicion and blame game” and rather come together to make strong case for government to see the urgency in the matter and take quick action to tame it and described as unfortunate the practice, where concerted efforts were made to fight illegal mining (Galamsey) but no efforts of that equal measure were taken to curb the menace of rosewood.
Mr Peter Andoh, the Assistant District Manager of Forestry Services Division (FSD) in Tumu made a presentation on the topic: “Rosewood harvesting in the Sissala East Municipality – facts and figures, mandate, history, legality and challenges.”
He noted there were 12 permit holders currently operating within Tumu Forest District, and also disclosed that GH¢649,200.00 was realised as stumpage revenue from 173 trucks with volume of 5,410,000 cubic metres between February and April 2018.
Lack of adequate information and education on rosewood permits, felling without permit, unwillingness of community members to volunteer information on illegalities and land owners felling trees on their lands and selling to permit holders among others were being listed as some challenges confronting the fight against illegal rosewood in the area.
Mr Karim Nanyua, the Sissala East Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), said sustainability of agricultural activities in the Municipality was being threatened by exploitation of forest resources by unscrupulous people and applauded engagement which he observed was in line with government’s anti-corruption crusade.
It was concluded at the meeting that stakeholders play their respective roles effectively and collaborate with each other to stop both fertilizer smuggling and illegal rosewood harvesting.
The engagement was part of a 12-month advocacy platform: “Intensive Fight against Corruption – Rosewood Cutting and Fertilizer Smuggling” being implemented by SILDEP in partnership with STAR Ghana with funding from Christian Aid, UKAID and DANIDA.
The platform started in April 2018 and expected to end in February 2019 in the Sissala East Municipal.