NEWS COMMENTARY ON THE DEPLETED FORESTS OF THE COUNTRY
The arrest of a 43-year-old Chinese woman, Helena Huang in an attempt to smuggle four containers of Rosewood in Tamale gives cause for concern especially coming on the heels of the recent deportation of another Chinese woman, Aisha Huang for engaging in illegal mining in the country. According to the Tamale Police, Helena failed to produce her passport, permit and other documents to show that she legally acquired the products hence her arrest. The fact is, Rosewood is a banned timber specie and felling, harvesting and export of these trees are prohibited. The ban was placed because Rosewood is one of the endangered timber species in the country and it take between 50 to 100 years to mature. In recent times there have been an uncontrolled logging of rosewood for export mostly to China which began in the Upper West Region some three years ago and the impact is being felt in the mostly farming communities. Communities have started reporting erratic rainfall patterns, storms, poor harvests and bush fires. Fears are that at the current rate of harvesting rosewood, it will be gone from the region in three years. China needless to state protects its trees and wood products highly and they could be seen adorning most roads in the cities and towns. The reckless denigration and violation of Ghana’s forests give cause for alarm given the fact that Ghana is said to have recorded 60 percent rise in forest loss between 2017 and 2018 which is said to be the highest in the world.
According to Global Forest Watch countries like Ghana are catching up with forest that have had long standing struggles to protect their fire of cover. The losses in Ghana have been attributed in part to alleged mining. Fortunately enough, Ghana is signatory to the Cocoa and Forests Initiative which aims at ending deforestation eventually reverse it. These however yield very little dividend due largely to rampant encroachment on forest reserves and protected areas as well as illegal logging, mining and settlement. Fighting deforestation has not been an easy task in Ghana despite several laws that prohibit illegal logging and exploitation of other natural resources. Weak enforcement of laws and regulations of forestry, wildlife and natural resources have been cited for the high deforestation rate. There is also excessive logging, unsustainable agricultural practices, bush fires, cutting of fuel wood, mining, quarrying and increased bush fires among other. Again, the activities of communities on the forest fringes like their demand for forestry products due to population growth and urbanisation compound the challenges.
It is said if the last tree dies, the last man dies. Climate Change is affecting the country because of irresponsible and illegal felling of trees especially in the country’s forests. The ozone layer which protects man from the sun’s rays has been destroyed making the scorching sun to fall directly on man. This makes it imperative to be more ruthless with people who desecrate our forests. Ghana risks losing its total forest cover if illegal loggers are not checked. The laws of the land must deal drastically with people like Helena Huang to serve as a deterrent to others. Situations where a whole forest reserve is brought down to mine for gold and other mineral resources is primitive and dangerous and can affect the ecosystem.
BY: JUSTICE MINGLE, A JOURNALIST.