‘Extend fight against galamsey to illegal logging’ - Forestry Experts
Forestry Experts have appealed to the media and by extension the Media coalition against galamsey to extend the media campaign against illegal mining to illegal logging, which they described as ‘timber galamsey.’
Their appeal, they stated was underpinned on the fact that the media’s involvement in the age long national fight against illegal mining (galamsey) was the reason why the national fight has achieved results.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the Operations Director of the Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), Mr Glen Asomaning, was optimistic that if the media would make a similar commitment to the fight against ‘timber galamsey’ Ghana’s forest, which is already threatened by illegal mining could be saved.
According to Mr Asomaning, statistics at the Ghana Forestry Commission indicate that the current rate of forest depletion was two per cent of the remaining 1.6 million hectares of forest cover every year, due to illegal logging.
The two per cent is equal to 65,000 hectares, he stated.
Mr Asomaning said at the turn of the century, Ghana had 8.2 million hectares of forest cover, meaning that the country had lost over 70 per cent of its forest cover in 28 years.
He explained that although by law only two or three timber trees were allowed to be removed within every hectare of forest cover, the indiscriminate removal of logs without strict sanctions by the state, was threatening the country’s forest cover.
He was of the opinion that although illegal logging was as serious as illegal mining, it was not being given the needed attention, a situation he warned would cost the country its total forest cover in 10 years.
“That will mean total dependency on timber imports to meet the high national demand for timber and timber products in a couple of years,” he said.
He indicated that successive governments had made some efforts but had not yielded the desired results hence the call on the media to collectively get involved.
For his part, the Director of Nature and Development Foundation, Mr Mustapha Seidu said the size of forest cover lost was alarming and a threat to sustainable socio-economic development.
Mr Seidu stressed the need for all stakeholders to put their hands on deck to save the country’s forest.
He called on the government to accelerate the passage of the Public Procumbent Policy on timber and timber products (PPP).
A review of the forestry sector conducted by the foundation, he said, established that the government was the largest consumer of illegal lumber, though indirectly.
He explained that the situation was so because most contractors and sub-contractors engaged on public works bought illegal lumber because it was cheaper.
“So although the government might have paid for legal wood because contractors use the price of that to estimate the cost of projects, the contractors often settle for illegal but cheaper wood,” he said.
Mr Seidu emphasised that 80 per cent of the lumber on the market was illegally produced, a development which had made them inferior.
Furthermore, although illegal wood was cheaper because producers evaded tax, it was not well treated and not allowed to dehydrate properly like the wood processed by the sawmills.
He appealed to the public to boycott illegal wood and recommended that government put in place policies that would facilitate the setting up of timber plantations by both the public and the private sectors and the strict enforcement of statutes on forest management.