Apaak repeats call for implementation of ban against rosewood felling

By
Benjamin Mensah, GNA

Accra, Aug. 14, GNA
– Despite a ban placed on the harvest and trade of rosewood for the fifth time
in March this year, the illegal logging and export of the specie continues
unabated.

The ban was put in
place in 2012, but the unlawful harvesting and trade is still occurring, with
at least six million trees being exported to China.

Dr Clement Apaak, MP
for the Builsa South Constituency, speaking at a press conference in Parliament
House, said “…We were all overjoyed when on 12th March 2019, Mr Kwaku Ansoma
Kyeremeh, Lands and Natural Resources Minister, announced a renewal of this
ban.

“The evidence is
clear that this ban was being flouted and the illegal felling is ongoing but
the Minister and his Deputy continue to deny it -“now the truth is out.”

Sourcing information
from a recent report from the Washington based Environmental Investigation
Agency (EIA), Dr Apaak, who is a leading campaigner on the illegal harvesting
and trading in rosewood, blamed the Minister and the Deputy for not being
truthful about the activity and accused members of the ruling government for
being behind the flouting of the ban.

“After several
months of investigations using undercover agents, they discovered that despite
the Minister’s latest ban announced recently, the Forestry Commission is still
issuing permits to political activists to harvest and export rosewood
illegally,” Dr Apaak said.

Quoting the report,
Dr Apaak said “powerful Chinese and Ghanaian traffickers are still harvesting
and shipping rosewood out of the country with the help of some ruling party
members.”

“The report said
these activists are using a number of tactics to get the illegal trade going
including “fraudulent use of ‘salvage permits,’ misdeclaration of use timber
species, use of ‘escorts’ to deal with control points, forging of official
documents, and retrospective issuance of permits.”

“There is a high
level of corruption, collusion, institutionalised trafficking and the lack of
enforcement at the heart of the illegal rosewood business, “Dr Apaak said,
adding that some traffickers hire well-connected personnel who guarantee the
secure movement of rosewood logs from the logging site to Tema port.

Describing the EIA
report as very juicy, Dr Apaak gave more details of the illegal activity for
which after they are stopped, that traffickers pay pittance penalty fee of GH¢1500.00 – GH¢1700.00
against the right amount US$15,000, “and receive respective conveyance and
permits in return, and then the logs are released to escorts and traffickers so
that they can export.”

Dr Apaak said he has
petitioned the Office of the Special Prosecutor over the bribery allegation, to
prosecute offenders.

He called on
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo to institute a probe into the illegal
rosewood business.

Dr Apaak said the Lands
and Forestry Minister should have resigned from his position by now, as he is
accused of lying over the felling of rosewood to Parliament.

Dr Apaak said the
activities of illegal rosewood fellers is threatening the very survival of the
people of Builsa South, as their activities is causing desertification, drying
up of water bodies, less rain, food scarcity and  more north- south migration.

GNA

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