The illegal Rosewood Processing Center inside the Kukula Forest Reserve
Residents of the Kayoro Community in the Kassena-Nankana West district in the Upper East Region, have decided to protect their forest reserves, since the Kassena-Nankana West District Assembly and the Forestry Commission, seem to have lost interest in the fight against persons engaged in illegal Rosewood felling in their reserves.
The residents of Kayoro with the help the members of the Kassena-Nakana Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) and the Organization for Indigenous Initiatives and Sustainability- Ghana (ORGIIS) have started an operation to arrest illegal Chain-Saw operators who enter the Community’s reserves for illegal purposes.
The latest arrest involved some 5 workers of a yet to be identified Timber Contractor. The five Chain-Saw operators were busily felling Rosewood in the Kukula Forest Reserve. The Community members seized their equipment and over 600 pieces untrimmed Rosewood logs. The five illegal operators were later handed over to the Police in Navrongo.
Many communities in the Upper East Region, have large stretches of Rosewood and over the past two years, some Timber Contractors with the help of some persons in influential offices at the District Assembly, Regional and National levels, have been cutting Rosewoods and fast depleting forest reserves where these trees are found, thereby causing many river tributaries to dry up.
In the Kassena-Nankana West District, the affected communities (Nakong and Kayoro), have lost thousands of Rosewood trees from their forest reserves and yet, cannot boast of any benefits; surprisingly, some self-seeking individuals in these communities and the District, are seriously making huge sums of money from the illegal Rosewood felling, to the detriment of the communities.
Community members told Journalists that, the posture and boldness of the illegal Chain-Saw operators and the Timber Contractors who enter their Forest Reserves, confirms their suspicion that, some elements within the Forestry Commission and the Kassena-Nankana West District Assembly, are secretly supporting them and encouraging them to illegally cut the Rosewood for their personal gains.
Executive Director of ORGIIS-Ghana, Julius Awareja, in an interview, told the Daily Guide that, per his estimation, a total of 2 million Rosewood trees have been illegally cut from the Kukula Forest Reserve in Kayoro, as well as the Nakong community reserves and exported to China and other Asian countries and yet, the communities have nothing to boast of.
According to him, his Organisation has been at the fore-front of the fight against depletion of natural resources in the Kassena-Nankana West District to ensure that all natural resources in the area are protected and managed to the benefit of communities.
He commended the CREMA members for Kayoro and Nakong Communities for their tireless effort at protecting their forest reserves, even without remuneration.
Julius Awareja prayed that, whoever becomes the District Chief Executive for Kassena-Nankana West, will not behave like the immediate past DCE, George Nontera, whose posture, while in office suggested that, he was not worried about the amount of money the communities were losing through the illegal act of self-seeking Timber Contractors.
At the time of filing this report, most parts the Kukula Forest Reserve in the Kessana-Nankana West, had been burnt and animals living there had all fled to nearby Forest Reserves in the Upper West region, where the illegal cutting of the Rosewood Trees has been halted, largely due to the patriotism of community members and officials of the Forest Commission there.
But for the “support” of the Forest Commission, no illegally acquired Rosewood would leave the country through a legal means. The trick is that, some Timber Contractors sponsor the Rosewoods to be cut illegally, and then the Forest Commission at the Regional Level, writes to the National level complaining about some illegal felling of Rosewood and so should be permitted to confiscate all illegal Rosewoods laying in the various Forest Reserves.
Daily Guide has learnt that, when the permission is granted, the same Timber Contractors who sponsored the illegal cutting of the Rosewood trees, then get legal backing to collect their “booty” and then pay their ways through to the international markets. The communities virtually get nothing from their natural resources.
The practice has affected farmers who farm in the reserves, as well as Bee-Keeping for honey extraction.
Ebo Bruce-Quansah, Kayoro