Director of Operations at the Forest Services Division (FSD), Forestry Commission, Mrs. Edith Abroquah, has warned some officials of the Timber Monitoring Team against conniving with timber operators for them to escape with confiscated lumber.
Per their duty, officials of the FSD are supposed to escort timber operators caught with truck-loads of illegal lumber to the Forestry Commission’s head office after their vehicle is impounded.
However, some of the officials, according Mrs. Abroquah, are bribed by the timber operators and thereby refuse to escort impounded trucks – giving way for the timber operators to escape with illegal lumber.
The practice, Mrs. Abroquah said, promotes cutting immature trees and thereby impedes the Commission’s work to check deforestation.
She however assured that the Commission is investigating the matter, and any official found complicit will be made to face the full rigours of the law.
Among other challenges she mentioned the Commission is facing are leakage of information by some monitoring team members to wood dealers; death threats issued by some wood dealers; political interference; uncooperative attitude by some police officials; inadequate logistics – especially vehicles; unreliable information from informants; and inadequate remuneration.
Research from the Tropical Forest Alliance (TFA) 2020 – a global public-private partnership in which partners aim to reduce tropical deforestation – has shown that about US$236million is needed over a period of five years to increase the country’s forest cover from a paltry 1.8 million hectares to a healthy 5.9 million hectares.
Due to excessive deforestation, Ghana’s forest cover has dwindled from a high of 8.4 million hectares as at 1900 to as low as 1.8 million hectares which, experts have pointed out, is in danger of depleting further.
The data shows that between 1990 and 2000, Ghana lost an average of 135,000 hectares per annum, and the current deforestation rate is estimated to be around 3.2 percent per annum.