Africa Economy Podcast Podcast
The looting of Ghanaian rosewood by China
Thousands of delegates and experts from 180 countries are meeting in Geneva today to try to reinforce the rules put in place forty years ago by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. extinction (CITES). Among the species that are threatened in the African flora, there is the rosewood, a tropical wood very popular in China. A few years ago, Madagascar had to make wild exports. It is now the turn of West Africa and especially Ghana.
Long accustomed to exporting its cocoa beans and gold, Ghana has for some years been producing considerable quantities of rosewood. Much more than biodiversity would allow. William K. Dumenu, a researcher with the Ghana Forestry Institute and author of a report on the issue, writes: " The level at which we use rosewood is unsustainable. We cut more trees than it grows naturally. There are no artificial rosewood plantations in Ghana. It's in the natural state. These trees regenerate themselves. So you have to cut at a rate that allows reproduction. But we take too much. It must be known that it takes between 40 and 100 years even for the rosewood to reach maturity to be exploited .
What explains this excessive exploitation are the flaws of the Ghanaian law that allows the logging of rosewood by the forest communities for their local use. However, it is easy to get around this text.
According to William Bandoh, Biodiversity Specialist at the Ghana Forestry Institute, the key factor for violation of the law is the Chinese approach. " The Chinese use money, a lot of money, millions of dollars. They undertook to monopolize state culture and the state apparatus. They come with their huge amounts of money and with their local contacts, they try to influence forest officials, they influence politicians, local communities and leaders. They have put in place a system of bribes that goes from the forest to the port of export of wood. There is a sophisticated system of corruption financed by Chinese money .
The traffickers of rosewood also resort to violence, beatings or threats are commonplace. Jeremiyah Seido, head of an environmental association in Bole, in the Savannah region of northern Ghana, frequently makes the experiment.
The latter claims for his community the benefit of the exploitation of rosewood. " A container of rosewood is worth $ 65,000 when he leaves Ghana. But in communities, you do not even touch $ 10,000. It should be better managed. When we cut the rosewood, it must allow communities to build roads, schools, clinics. We also say that those people who are in rosewood, out of the $ 65,000 worth, they should spend at least 10,000 to replant these trees and other trees to regenerate the environment . "
Beyond economic and environmental damage, illegal logging of rosewood also contributes to dividing populations between those who resist and those who touch a few bills.
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