Ghana, the West African country sandwiched by French speaking Togo to the east and Ivory Coast to the west, is one of the endowed nations in terms of natural resources.
The Gold Coast, going by its former name, rings a resource bell. Gold. Beyond that, Ghana has diamond, bauxite, manganese and timber. Ghana also has cocoa, in fact it’s one of the largest producers at the global level.
Its numerous water bodies snaking across the length and breadth of the country experienced heavy pollution due to the activities of illegal mining, known in local parlance as galamsey. The pollution triggered a media campaign against galamsey forcing the government to induct a taskforce to combat the scourge.
The other resource that is threatened is illegal logging which effectively affects Ghana’s forest cover as people under the cover of deceit and of official collusion fell endangered trees and ship them out of the country.
But for journalist Emmanuel Dogbevi, the managing editor of the Ghana Business News, a boiling issue of illegal logging of rosewood was a hot issue that required extra attention. He undertook a two-week investigation travelling to Ghana’s most hit zones to tell the story.
Across Ghana’s arid north, his findings showed that forests were being depleted with careless abandon as ill-equipped state officials look on helplessly, some times hamstrung by official complicity authorizing them to give illegal loggers ‘right of passage.’
“When the final stock is eventually taken, the illegal logging of rosewood would be found to have left a deep scar on Ghana and mostly its vulnerable people and communities.
“The level of illegal logging of the precious tree species for export has left a gaping hole in the savannah forests of the country’s northern regions, largely poor and far behind on the development index,” wrote at the beginning of his final report.
He chronicled how bans by successive governments have been sidestepped as logs are felled and transported out of the area on trucks that make the journey all the way down south to Ghana’s industrial hub of Tema where they are shipped out.
He exposes crucially how a key natural park, the Mole National Park is threatened largely by the logging. Further how a river is drying up and multiple instances of abandoned logs in parts of the forest and wildlife – warthogs – left stranded in arid conditions.
Loggers he discovered often used deceit by exploiting the ignorance of local authorities to log illegally under the pretext of having necessary authorization. Plus the worrying instance of fatigue on the part of young people who end up more often than not joining the illegal logging business.
The impact of over logging has taken a climatic effect as observed by local authorities he spoke to whiles on the field. Rainfall patterns have been altered and storms continue to ravage homes that hitherto were insulated.
On the climatic impact he wrote: “We trekked to the Kpri River, over which a bridge has been built. We found it drying up, and lying not far from the banks of the now vanishing river are felled rosewood that could not be exported because loggers for some reasons among others, the smaller girth sizes, could not move them. We counted some 300 logs wasting away!”