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CITES bans rosewood exports from West African countries, including Ghana

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On June 8, 2022, a historic decision was taken by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). That day, CITES announced the immediate suspension of international trade in West African rosewood. The ban affects all West African countries as well as Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), as of April 2022, more than three million tons of rosewood worth $2 billion had been illegally traded between West African counties and China. over a period of five years. The main exporters have been identified as Sierra Leone, Gambia, Mali and Ghana.

And despite repeatedly announced bans on the illegal harvesting and export of rosewood from Ghana, between March and December 2019, more than 147,000 kg of rosewood left Ghana for China.

Chinese customs trade data showed that 147,760,190 kg of rosewood worth $87,628,864 were imported from Ghana to China from March to December 2019.

In December 2019, data showed that 7,941,771 kg of rosewood worth $5,368,120 was still being imported from Ghana by China, said EIA Forestry Campaign Director Lisa Handy. , to Ghana Business News in 2020.

The EIA, applauding the ban, described it as a “historic move to ban the trade in what has become the most trafficked wildlife product in the world”.

The suspension should remain in place until countries can credibly demonstrate to the CITES Secretariat and the Chairs of the Standing and Plants Committees that trade will be legal and sustainable through respective legal acquisition and advice. of non-detrimental trade.

The decision is also binding on the 184 member states of the Convention, including importing countries such as China – the country will not be able to accept illegal rosewood exports while the ban remains in place.

Godwin Dzekoto, head of the northern sector of environmental activist group, Arocha, told Ghana Business News that the CITES decision to suspend international trade in rosewood is commendable and a bold step in protecting the integrity ecology of Ghana.

“It indeed gives us the leverage to put in place measures that ensure, as a country, that we have the necessary legal and institutional frameworks in place to ensure the sustainable use of the species.

This could temporarily affect the country’s export earnings and also affect the livelihoods of communities, but it puts us in a better position to show commitments to ensure the prosperity of our ecosystem, as the current regime is unsustainable and illegal. Once the systems are in place, we can take full advantage of the resources,” he said.

In 2019 and 2020, Ghana Business News conducted two investigations into the illegal harvesting and export of rosewood out of Ghana. The first article focused on the situation in the Upper West region and the second on the activities of illegal loggers in three regions – the northern, savannah and northeast regions.

The stories sparked reactions around the world and compelled the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to issue statements. The Forestry Commission, however, in both cases did not even acknowledge receipt of the letters requesting clarification on the matter.

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi
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