A regional consultative dialogue on illegal logging, commercial charcoal burning and small-scale mining, also known as galamsey, has been held in Damongo, capital of the Savannah Region.
The forum, which brought together Paramount chiefs, Association of Small Scale Miners, security agencies and other stakeholders, was to serve as the roadmap to protect the environment.
Addressing participants at the forum on behalf of the Yagbonwura Tunrumba Boresa, Vice President of the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs Biipewura Abdulai Jinapor described the increasing depletion of the environment and vegetative cover of the region as sad and a failure on the tenants of the Gonja culture.
“It is sad and indescribable how the vegetative cover of the hard earned kingdom is mishandled especially on matters of illegal logging of rosewood and the glare commercial charcoal burning activities taking place in the kingdom.”
He added: “The arable lands and water bodies the forebears of the ancient kingdom bequeathed to this generation are being depleted and destroyed.”
He noted the recent devastation caused by rainstorm in Yapei in the Central Gonja District and Damongo in the West Gonja Municipality displacing about 1,313 persons is as a result of the human activities of logging.
He appealed to the Paramount chiefs, REGSEC and all stakeholders to join hands to protect the environment.
The Savannah Regional Minister, Muhazu Jibril, indicated that the Savannah Regional Coordinating Council is ready to support the chiefs to flush out persons engaged in logging and commercial charcoal burning in the communities.
He urged the media to help in the education of the people to see the activities of logging and commercial charcoal burning as a bane.
“We have to protect the environment now or suffer the consequences. I am ready to support in all forms to deal with the situation.”
For his part, the Savannah Regional Police Commander, DCOP Bediako, assured the gathering of the commitment of the police administration to support the fight.
He called for cooperation of citizens within the catchment area.
Inauguration of anti logging/charcoal burning task force
A task force made up of police personnel, youth leaders and some selected chiefs was inaugurated to enforce the ban on all forms of logging and commercial charcoal burning in the Savannah Region.
The taskforce is to be chaired by the Regional Police Commander, DCOP Bediako.
Ultimatum to vacate site
On March 31, the Savannah Regional Security Council (REGSEC) at a press conference in Damongo gave an ultimatum of four weeks to individuals engaged in logging and commercial charcoal burning to pack out of the region.
The directive, which is due to expire on April 30, has been extended to May 7.
This, according to REGSEC, is to make way for full compliance.
Impact of logging
Logging and its related activities over the last decade has been on an increase in the Savannah Region.
Even though the citizens are aware of the negative effects of the activity, they say poverty levels and attitude of chiefs has kept the activity on the ascendancy.
In 2015, a Gonja Traditional Council meeting was conveyed in Yapei, where chiefs made commitments to end the menace.
However, this is yet to yield any positive results.
A Rosewood factory has also been established in Damongo by a Chinese company believed to be associated with Aisha Huang.
The immediate past Savannah Regional Minister, Adam Salifu Braimah, tried to clamp down on the menace by arresting and shutting down the factory.
Tens of thousands of charcoal that enters the southern part of the country is believed to be from the Savannah Region.
By Christopher Amoako|3news.com|Ghana