A group calling itself the Concerned Youth for Sustainable Development in Gonjaland has described as the betrayal of trust decision by the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs to open another window for illegal harvesters of rosewood.

The Savannah Regional House of Chiefs on Tuesday made a shocking U-turn on their earlier ban on logging of rosewood and commercial charcoal burning that has bedeviled the region over decades.

According to the chiefs, they have opened a one-month window for the illegal loggers to cart their rosewood already harvested from Gonjaland.

But, the youth group see the decision as a way to open the floodgate for the continuation of the illegal activity which has negatively affected the climatic conditions in the region.

The group is therefore calling on the Bolewura led Committee on environment to withdraw and reverse the said decision to open the one-month window for the loggers with immediate effect.

They also want all the mapped-out areas where rosewood was confiscated to be made public.

Below is the full statement by the Concerned Youth for Sustainable Development in Gonjaland

In June this year, the chiefs at a traditional council meeting in Damongo declared a total ban on the activities following devastation caused the environment as a result of the menace.

We, the Concerned Youth for Sustainable Development in Gonjaland, by this petition wish to express our utmost disappointment over the unfortunate decision to open a one-month window for illegal loggers to cart their rosewood already harvested from Gonjaland.

This decision was communicated at a press conference in Bole on the 5th July, 2021, by the Secretary to the Bolewura led committee on environment, Mr Abutu Kapori. We are outraged and we wish to expressly communicate same through this petition.

It is recalled that the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs met on the 21st of April, 2021. The outcome of the meeting was to place a permanent ban on illegal logging, commercial charcoal burning among other environmental degradation activities. A 5-member committee was set up to effect this ban by 10th May, 2021 of which Yiram Bolewura Sarfo Kutuge Feso (I) is the chairman with other four members to support.

This decision to set up this committee was partly in response to a call made by the Savannah Regional Minister, Hon Saeed Muaz Jibril around 30th March, 2021. In making the call, the Regional Minister solicited the support of the chiefs and people of the region to help fight the menace of illegal logging, commercial charcoal burning among others. A task force headed by the Regional Police Commander was formed to ensure these activities were permanently put to an end.

It is equally worthy to note that the government of Ghana through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, on the 2nd day of July, 2021, issued an outright and immediate ban on the exportation of Rosewood out of the country. The Minister who fortunately happens to be our own son, an MP from the land and a Royal, has further directed that all confiscated Rosewood be auctioned only to domestic markets and that no person who acquires rosewood at such auction shall be permitted to export it outside the country.

Pursuant to this outright ban and further directives by the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon Samuel Abu Jinapor, and in support of the call made by the Savannah Regional Minister on the 30th of March, 2021, we wish to unequivocally reject the said decision by the committee on environment. The Regional House of Chiefs through the committee has dashed our hopes and confidence we reposed in them.

youth chief of Damongo Traditional Area, Yakubu Jaaga

We have had romours that, some people continued to log even after the ban was in place. So, the decision to allow for one month window for illegal loggers to convey their harvest is only an attempt to regularise an already illegality.

This unfortunate decision is a betrayal of trust, a smack on the face of our great ancestors who left this vast, rich and arable land for future generations, and a deliberate stab on the back of our own son (The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources), who is fighting tirelessly to save our forest cover. We are therefore making the following recommendations to be considered by the Jakpa Palace, the committee and other key stakeholders:

The Bolewura led Committee on environment should withdraw and reverse the said decision to open the one-month window for the loggers with immediate effect.

All the mapped-out areas where rosewood was confiscated should be made public.

All traditional areas should name and commission to work their task forces as per the requirements of the 10th May ban.

All rosewood confiscated should be declared and an alternative use be announced with immediate effect. We will request that an option to make desks for schools in Gonjaland should be a priority.

An immediate afforestation program should be put together in collaboration with the forestry commission and other relevant stakeholders to ensure the reclamation of the degraded forest cover in the land.

In conclusion, we wish to State that failure to consider these recommendations, the concerned youth will institute another alternative approach to get the audience of the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs and other relevant stakeholders