The forestry commission has indicated that efforts to enforce the ban on felling the endangered rosewood species is being thwarted by community members conniving with illegal chain saw operators.
The Operations Manager of the Forestry Commission, Kwakye Ameyaw, expressed the concern speaking at a National Dialogue on Environmental Governance.
Mr Ameyaw insisted that the commission stands by its argument that the BBC’s claims that six million rosewood trees have been exported to China from 2012 to 2018 despite the ban are false.
He explained that communities on the Fufulso-Sawla stretch and the Bui Dam enclave began forging alliances with timber contractors who were permitted to salvage all trees that occurred on the sites of the road and dam projects giving rise to the illegal trend.
He was emphatic that no forestry commission official can singlehandedly provide solutions for illegal lumbering activities if the community dwellers continue to support and cover up these activities for their own gain.
He noted, “There are measures in place to ensure sustainable logging but the magnitude of the task on our hands is such that no single officer can claim to have answers to this problem if the communities are prepared to condone and connive with the illegal operators. Some of our officers have been maimed and killed in the communities where the felling is done.”
The third Accountability Rule of law and Anticorruption Program (ARAP) held in Kumasi threw the spot lights on three key environmental concerns; Illegal Mining, Deforestation and Noise Pollution.
The panel discussions drew from a European Union funded survey conducted by the National Commission on Civic Education on the Public opinion on Corruption; Public Accountability and Environmental Governance in Ghana.”
According to the research, 39% of Ghanaians deem illegal mining as their biggest environmental concern with 2.7% and 0.3% of respondents going for deforestation and noise pollution respectively.
24% of respondents insisted that people destroy the environment because of indiscipline while 20% attributed it to unemployment with another 13% blaming the trend on the desire of individuals and organisations to amass wealth.
The chairperson for the NCCE Josephine Nkrumah who opened the conference was worried Ghana continues to grapple with the scourge of “galamsey, sanitation, deforestation, wanton destruction of our water bodies, e-waste disposal, air and noise pollution and marine environmental pollution.
She was, however, categorical that these challenges have lingered on because of “ignorance, impunity, the lack of proper implementation of the policies and the improper implementation of the legal framework”
The NCCE Chair warned of the threats of climate change and its impact on global temperatures and sustainability of the earth’s eco system if frantic steps are not taken by all stakeholders to salvage the situation.
The third Accountability Rule of law and Anticorruption Program also empanelled the Acting Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) John Pwamang and the chairman of the Media Coalition against Illegal Mining Ken Ashigbey.
Speaking with Ultimate News on the sidelines of the conference, Ashanti regional director of the NCCE Wilson Raphael Arthur gave assurances that the pointers garnered from the event will form part of an outreach document which will be taken to schools; religious bodies and the general public to conscientize people on the need to conserve the environment for posterity.