General News of Wednesday, 11 September 2019
Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh has debunked allegations that seized rosewood trees will be burnt to serve as deterrent to others engaging in its exploitation.
Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie popularly known as Sir John while addressing the media on September 4 made it known that his outfit as part of measures to curtail the trade of rosewood has decided to among other things, burn all confiscated rosewood in order to dissuade people from engaging in cutting down the tree since all other measures have failed.
According to Sir John, the Forestry Commission normally sought court orders to auction the confiscated rosewood to the public but its exploitation had not stopped and therefore burning the wood was the most viable option to adopt.
But the Lands Minister, speaking at Wednesday’s edition of Meet the Press said he did not hear Sir John publicly say the trees would be burnt but even if he did, it was just an exaggerated statement he made and not necessarily intended to affect that.
The Minister further reiterated that the rosewood trees will under no circumstance be burnt but rather be used for other purposes that will benefit the country.
“The Ministry is not aware of the statement that rosewood seized would be burnt. And indeed the seized rosewood will not be burnt. We’ll use it for a different purpose instead of burning it…I did not hear him if he said so. If he said so then probably it was a mere puff because he did not intend that statement to be effected. There cannot be anything that could be done at any of the commissions where the minister will stand at the right and then the commission will stand at the left. We work in tandem so it is not that he has said one thing and I have said anything”, he stated at the press briefing.
The Lands and Natural Resources Ministry in March 2019 banned the transportation and exportation of rosewood trees to protect it against indiscriminate exploitation but the situation still persists despite all efforts by the management of the Forestry Commission to curb it.
Reacting to this, Asomah-Cheremeh insisted that his ministry has not issued any salvage permit since the ban took effect although there have been numerous reports in the media that the exploitation and exportation of the species are still taking place.
In effect to this, he said his Ministry have constituted a seven-member committee comprising of Civil Society Organisations, Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority, Parliamentary Select Committee and the Lands and Forestry to unravel the allegations made by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).
The Lands Minister further assured that his ministry is poised to curb the illegalities of rosewood trade and would make available the findings of the investigations to the general public when the report is ready.