Illegal Rosewood logging in the Builsa Districts depleting last forest reserves

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March 6th, 2017

Petition

To:
His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana
Flagstaff House, Accra

Re: Illegal Logging in Builsa South District

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens and friends of Builsa, and we wish to draw your attention to the disturbing activities of illegal timber merchants in our district. In recent times, we have observed that illegal loggers have invaded the remnant forest patches in the savanna zone, including ours, and are felling and trading in Rosewood (Pterocarpus erinaceus) and Papao (Afzelia africana), two endangered tropical hardwood species. The activities of these illegal timber operators in the savanna zone are resulting in massive destruction of the remaining vegetation cover, which further exposes our land and water bodies to desertification.

The impact of these illegal logging activities on our already precarious ecological conditions and livelihoods needs no further explication. But if the practice is allowed to continue, we all, in the very near future, will grapple with worsening climatic conditions, a declining agrarian economy, and serious migration of environmental refugees from the savanna to the south. Leadership cannot afford to watch unconcerned and allow these illegal loggers to make huge financial profit at the expense of the poor masses whose daily livelihoods depend on a healthy environment.

This ruthless environmental carnage is not only the result of utter ignorance but that of sheer greed for money and insensitivity to and total disregard for the fragile ecosystem of the region. It is a cheek and an insult to communities in the savanna areas when unscrupulous businessmen and their official and unofficial accomplices engage in massive ecological destruction in a region where your government has always strongly emphasized the importance of tree planting and environmental stewardship in general. We ask, how do we mitigate the hazards of desertification and climate change with the onslaught of illegal logging activities such as these? It is clear that logging is only allowed when loggers have official permits and are licensed by law to engage in lumbering. We wonder which state agency would permit tree-cutting in the arid savanna region where afforestation should rather be encouraged and consciously promoted and deforestation avoided.

We are surprised that despite the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources’ announcement of a ban on logging in this fragile zone in 2014, massive logging is currently ongoing in the Fumbisi, Uwasi, Doninga, Bachonsi, Kanjaga, Wiesi and Gbedembilisi communities in the Builsa South District. We are even more surprised that the mandated authorities have chosen to ignore this problem, despite its widespread nature. Worse still, the illegal loggers have recently moved more logging equipment into our Builsa South District, prompting some youth in the district to respond in their own small way. At the moment, container truck-loads of logs have been impounded in Builsa South (see photos) by a small group of vigilant youth, bold young men and women whose conscience has forced them to do the job of the Police Command, District Chief Executive, District Assembly, and the traditional chiefs of the affected communities. However, there is a limit to what this gallant youth can do about the problem.

Your Excellency, we plead with you to intervene and halt this widespread environmental destruction. On behalf of all the concerned Builsa people, we specifically ask that:

1. A thorough investigation be conducted into the illegal logging activities in the Builsa South District and the perpetrators brought to justice accordingly. In addition, they should be made to plant and nurture trees to maturity in the affected areas as a compensatory measure;

2. An injunction be placed on illegal gold mining activities in the Kadema community of the Builsa North District, with immediate effect. Illegal gold mining activities in this community have similar consequences on our environment and livelihoods;

3. The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources and the Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission be requested to enforce a moratorium on illegal logging in the entire savanna zone, if that has not already been done.

We thank you sincerely and hope that our petition will receive all the attention it deserves.



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