The Founder and Programme Coordinator of Jaksally Development Organization in the Savannah Region Mr Seidu Jeremiah has indicated that Ghana may be hit with massive environmental challenges due to the depletion of its vegetation in the savannah ecological zone by rosewood loggers and commercial charcoal burners.  He said even though Ghana is co-chairing Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) but is worst in terms of environmental degradation.

His comment comes in a wake of recent cutting down of over hundred shea trees in Tinga by some charcoal burners in the Bole district of the Savannah Region.  The trees are been cut to be used and burn charcoal for commercial purposes.  The charcoal burners prefer the shea tree because it is alleged its charcoal last longer.

The Savannah Region in recent times has been hit by massive logging of not just rosewood but shea trees.

The shea tree offers jobs for several women, children and the youth in the area who largely depend on it as their sources of livelihood.

Even though the shea tree has several commercial values, it has been under attack by charcoal burners in recent times by charcoal burners who are ‘gunning’ down fresh and mature ones.

It provides fruits which serve as food for many people, shea nuts are processed into shea kernel, shea butter, soap,  and other cosmetic products which further brings income and empowerment for women.  This tree also has medicinal traits and serve as such for many people especially those living in the rural areas.

Jeremiah is casting doubt over Ghana’s commitment in tackling climate change issues and protection of people’s livelihood because its forest has been under attack by the activities of rosewood loggers and commercial charcoal burners in the savannah region.

Climate change issues have become one of the tropical concerns around the globe especially in Africa and Ghana where there is massive destruction of forest by illegal rosewood logging for export.

“We go and sit as a co-chair that we are supporting sustainable development goals when actually we have cut all our rosewood, our economic trees such as dawadawa and shea which are largely dependent of our vulnerable women, children and youth as their source of income in the rural areas” he observed.

He indicated that such activities are worsening climate change, coupled with the big risk multiplier, and messing up the environment.

“There will be climate refugees moving from Savannah Ecological Zone across Ghana due to floods, and droughts; Yields will go down by 50%. Food insecurity will increase and all predictions will worsen” he warned.

How to resolve these challenges and problems?

Increase in production of farms, look at food security, link farmers to market, develop food distributions systems in the cities, feed the population, and create jobs through Agribusiness.

Agribusiness will create jobs, add value to Savanah Ecological Zone production to create jobs and wealth. But agribusiness depends largely on trees.

Mr Jeremiah is advocating for a paradigm shift in the discussion of Savanah Ecological Zone from poverty reduction caused by illegal logging and indiscriminate felling of shea trees to Wealth Creation!

He said it is high time Ghana government classified shea, dawadawa and rosewood into the economic tree protection act of 1979 that has only cocoa as an economic tree.  Mr Jeremiah questioned how much revenue Ghana get from charcoal adding that shea alone brings in about 300 million dollars as revenue to this country.  He also wondered why all this rosewood logging and charcoal burning is happening in all Gonja communities across the Savannah region (SR).

Mr Jeremiah said even though the largest concentration of shea in this country is in the SR and the reason Cocoa Research Institute (CRI) was established in Bole in the ’70s to conduct research into shea and shea production.

He stated that Bole is likely to lose the Cocoa Research Institute because all the shea trees in the region are gone and it is making it difficult for the Research Institute to function properly.

Mr Jeremiah called on all stakeholders, government, Shea Network, Cocoa Research and other environmental organizations, chiefs and MMDAs to pay closed attention to what is happening to the economic trees in the savanna ecological zone especially shea.

“Before I was born, we were told that the shea population of Ghana was here that is why shea development station was put up in Bole as a result high growth in the area but today we are likely to lose CRI because they are no shea for researchers to work on’ he stated.

He believes that if more value is  placed on shea, dawadawa and many other economic trees it will help increase the income of many people especially the vulnerable women who are dependent on shea. This he said will also increase the country’s revenue from shea and shea products.

“The challenge of this tree cutting especially shea is that, people are losing their income, district assemblies are losing its revenue from taxes, and the communities are losing its environment which couple with low rainfall, and   finally it has an adverse effect on agriculture because people are farming on unproductive lands”

Jeremiah blamed the massive destruction of vegetation in the Savannah Region on the failure of traditional leadership, systemic failures in the implementation of national laws, local community’s environmental governance failure, collusion and corruption, greed and lazy youth to act on these matters.

He recounted his experience in the fight against rosewood logging and commercial charcoal burning in Gonjaland as he alleged that he has been attacked and threatened severally by same Gonja people he belongs just because he is fighting a good course for the land.

Jeremiah said the proliferation of receipts by the traditional authorities, youth groups, district assemblies and the forestry Commission for charcoal traders to transport charcoal is becoming too many and must stop immediately in order to bring sanity to the region.

The Rosewood Crusader said he has been vindicated by his earlier complaints to the Forestry Officer in Bole in 2018 when he reported that people were cutting fresh shea trees and also injecting chemicals into shea trees to be used for charcoal in Bole District.

“Women for the past six years did not pick shea in some parts of the Savannah Region especially in Maluwe in Bole district because shea trees were drying up mysteriously.

He said there will soon be troubles and the household civil war because men cannot afford to provide their wife’s needs and this will bring negative economic impact on the communities, districts, regions and the nation as whole because the chunk of mainstream revenue of these vulnerable women is taking away.

Jeremiah suggested that any truck that will be found carrying charcoal in the region to be seized and charcoal collected and distributed for the inhabitants for their domestic use in order to deterred people from engaging in such activities.

Written by : Jaksally Development Organization

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