Washington DC-based Environmental Intelligence Agency, EIA, is claiming Ghana exported US$5.4 million worth of rosewood species to China in September 2019 illegally despite a government ban. EIA has launched a new web-based tool that allows Ghanaian citizens to monitor the quantity and value of illegal rosewood imported into China from Ghana every month. The organization says it’s monitoring of data from China’s customs shows 9.3 million kilograms (the equivalent of 187,000 bags of cement) of rosewood species were exported from the country in that month alone.
The data claims since March 2019, 112,535,353 kilograms of rosewood amounting to $64,790,278 has been exported from the country illegally to China. Government through then Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Inusah Fuseini in 2013 banned the harvesting and export of rosewood after it became an endangered species. Since then, the ban has been renewed at least five times by successive ministers. But a recent Joy News documentary, “Killing Our Roses” revealed the illegal trade has been ongoing despite the ban.
Days after the investigative story aired, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Kwaku Asomah Kyeremeh announced an expanded scope of the ban outlawing not only felling and export but also handling and transportation. In July 2019, EIA released an investigative report BAN-BOOZLED: How Corruption and Collusion Fuel Illegal Rosewood Trade in Ghana in which it claimed officials of the ruling NPP and senior executives at the Forestry Commission were being given permits to export illegal rosewood logs despite the ban.
The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources then set up a committee to investigate the issue. Builsa South MP Dr. Clement Apaak petitioned the Office of the Special Prosecutor to investigate the issue. But EIA says the trade has continued and September 2019 data available to it shows Ghana is still one of largest exporters of rosewood in West Africa. “In addition to violating national laws, these exports raise serious questions about Ghana’s implementation of the Convention on International Trade in Wild Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), since the West African rosewood species has been protected by the international convention since 2017,” EIA said in a statement.
The organisation says the launch of the new web tool is to allow the Ghanaian public to monitor what is happening in its vulnerable forests. “This is particularly significant in that Ghana is to become the first using data available for the month of September 2019,” the statement added Kidan Araya who is Africa Program Campaigner at EIA, says, “The data we are making publicly available is of utmost importance for the forests in Ghana and the communities that depend on them. “It indicates that the illegal plunder of natural resources continues unabated in the country, despite public commitments made at the highest level of government.”