Ghana throwing away the value of its rosewood to China, an NGO has observed
By Mary Maxey October 24, 2019
The Programme Coordinator of Jaksally Development Organization an NGO based in the Savannah Region and a Rosewood Campaigner, Mr. Seidu Jeremiah has observed that, the value of rosewood in Ghana and Savannah Ecological Zone is being thrown away to China by contributing to China’s economic growth through harvesting and exportation of logs/Billets (unprocessed rosewood). He observed that the value of rosewood in China, India and elsewhere in the world is not only so luxurious but prestigious as compared to a bush price (give away prices) in Ghana. Judging his argument on the value of rosewood products in China, globally and what rosewood trees can do Mr. Seidu believe that more need to be done by the government in order to make rosewood more valuable and attractive for the economic growth of the country.
In an exclusive interviewed with Wesaygh.com, Mr. Seidu Jeremiah advocates for a paradigm shift in the discussion of Savanah Ecological Zone from poverty reduction caused by illegal logging and indiscriminate, unsustainable felling of rosewood and shea trees to Wealth Creation.
He said it is high time Ghana government classified rosewood, shea and dawadawa trees into the economic tree protection act of 1979 as well as review it that has only cocoa as an economic tree. Mr. Seidu bemoaned the level of rosewood destruction across the country and questioned how much revenue Ghana has been able to generate through illegal rosewood trade.
He said the smuggling of rosewood out of Ghana has rather benefited the importing countries such as China.
“How do we change the discussion in Ghana from poverty reduction to Wealth Creation? With Rosewood? We need to talk about competitiveness, trade, productivity and infrastructure development. Breaking in and moving up, looking at the bottom billion in Africa, structural change, helping economies, moving to labour-intensive production streams, infrastructure, energy sources, compliance to international standards, and sustainability in the presence of Climate Change. Rosewood sustainable management is the solution which will help attack food security, create jobs, with the realisation that young people are moving into the cities. With the big size and population increase what will make it work? Value addition to Rose Wood.”!
Savannah Ecological Zone has been under attack by illegal harvesting, processing and transportation of rosewood by some rosewood traffickers who smuggle these woods through Ghana’s ports. It is believed that rosewood would have had a significant impact on Ghana’s economic growth if proper attention has been heeded to by government and its agencies such as forestry commission (FC) environmental protection agency (EPA), customs, GRA and other security agencies at the source (gate-source).
The activities of rosewood logging have not only deprived Ghana of generating revenue but it has contributed negatively on the environment especially in affected areas. Savannah Region, Northern, Upper West, Upper East, Brong and Ahafo, Oti, Volta, Bono Region and many others have all suffered the brand in the illegal rosewood menace.
Rosewood refers to any of a number richly hued timbers, often brownish with darker veining, but found in many different hues. All rosewoods are strong and heavy, taking an excellent polish, being suitable for guitars (the fretboards on electric and acoustic guitars often being made of rosewood), marimbas,recorders,turnery, handles, furniture, and luxury flooring, etc. Rosewood oil, used in perfume, is extracted from the wood of Aniba rosaeodora. The dust created from sanding rosewood is considered as sensitizing irritant and can trigger asthma and other respiratory ailments.
Rosewood is one of the tree species found in the transition zone and Northern parts of Ghana. It was primarily used for charcoal production and fuelwood for rural households. The leaves are also an important source of livestock fodder for traditional pastoral communities.
Rosewood Export Trade in Ghana
Rosewood export started in Ghana in 2004, with an initial export volume of the only 18m3in that year. The export volume and value have increased since 2009 when the Government granted a permit to five (5) companies to remove all trees, including economic trees in the reservoir, to make way for the construction of the Bui Dam. China is the dominant importer of Ghanaian rosewood, representing over 90% of total exports.
This dominant importer (China) of Ghanaian rosewood is busily generating billions of dollars as income to the nation because the woods are been processed into a variety of product in China, which later are been sold to Ghana (Africa) on high purchases despite Ghana been the hub of the rosewood species.
Calls on government to action
But there are calls on the government of Ghana to classify rosewood, shea, dawadawa trees and cashew into the economic tree protection Act of 1979 that has only cocoa as an economic tree. This many believe will help manage the situation.
Status as an endangered species
In general, world stocks are poor through overexploitation. Some species become canopy trees (up to 30 m high), and large pieces can occasionally be found in the trade. Rosewood is now protected worldwide. At a summit of the international wildlife trade in South Africa, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) moved to protect the world’s most trafficked wild product by placing all 300 species of the rosewood trees under trade restrictions.
Environmental Investigation Agency Report on Ghana’s Rosewood
Meanwhile, Washington DC-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has recommended the government of Ghana to as a matter of agency commence a thorough investigation into corruption and collusion in the government, the Forestry Commission and customs administration, and the dismantling of the institutionalized illegal logging and trade networks in Ghana’s rosewood.
It is also urging the government to ensure immediate inclusion of effective public transparency mechanisms in the timber sector, with the participation of Ghanaian civil society, and monitoring by a body fully independent from the forestry commission.
This follows an investigative report published by EIA detailing how corruption and collusion fuel illegal rosewood trade in Ghana.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA)’s analysis, the equivalent of approximately 6 million Ghanaian rosewood trees has been imported by China since 2012, while bans on its harvest and export have been in place.
Powerful Chinese and Ghanaian traffickers explained to EIA undercover investigators how, with the help of ruling party members and complicity at all levels of government, they have established an institutionalized scheme, fueled by bribes, to mask the illegal harvest, transport, export, and CITES-licensing of the timber.
Jeremiah concluded that to move up the ladder, Add value to raw products, (billets or logs) more industries on rosewood to create wealth. Commodity trade makes Ghana poor. Not aid but business models, not energy access and infrastructure to link to the market. Sustainable management of rose wood business makes it happen, compliance to standards, not AID in 10 years. Our dream is not to sell unprocessed logs and Billets but add value to create jobs, increase incomes and create wealth through Sustainable management of Rosewood Business.