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21 August, 2017

Ghana risks losing its forest cover in 10 years - Experts

Graphic online


Forestry experts have warned that Ghana risks losing its total forest cover to illegal logging in 10 years if the current rate of forest depletion is not curtailed.

Referring to statistics at the Forestry Commission, the experts said the current rate of 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 or the size of 65,000 football pitches put together.

In Ghana, legal logging is defined as removing two or three timber trees within every hectare, while illegal logging is defined as indiscriminate removal of timber, particularly with chainsaw.

Speaking to journalists at a capacity building workshop on the forestry sector in Accra last Friday, the Director of Nature and Development Foundation ( NDF), Mr Mustapha Seidu, said at the turn of the century, Ghana had 8.2 million hectares of forest cover.

He described the size of forest cover lost was alarming and a threat to sustainable socio-economic development.

Mr Seidu, himself a forestry expert, stressed the need all stakeholders to save the country's forest.

The workshop was organised by the NDF, with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Required action

To be able to deal will illegal logging effectively, Mr Seidu called on the government to accelerate the passage of the Public Procurement Policy (PPP) on timber and timber products .

He said the call on the government to accelerate the passage of the PPP was underpinned by the fact that a review of the forestry sector conducted by the foundation had 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.

Market situation

For his part, another forestry expert, Mr Glen Asomaning, said 80 per cent of the lumber on the market was illegally produced, a development which had made them inferior.

He explained that 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.

Other recommendations Mr Asomaning made were for the government to 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.

He called on the media to extend the fight against illegal mining to illegal logging because their consequences were similar.

On the role of the public in the fight against illegal logging, both Mr Seidu and Mr Asomaning appealed to the public to boycott illegal wood.

Source: Graphic Online