Some concerned youth of the Savannah Region have kicked against the decision by the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs to give a month’s window of opportunity for all harvested logs to be carted from the region.
The Regional House of Chiefs at a press conference addressed by the Registrar, Mr Abutu Kapouri, also directed the loggers to pay a registration fee of GH¢1,000 to the paramountcies where they operated and a flat fee of GH¢5,000 on each truck load of logs from July 12 to August 11, 2021.
However, some concerned youth of the region have expressed disappointment and disapproval of the decision by the Regional House of Chiefs to give a one-month grace period for those harvested logs, which they claimed were illegally logged, to be carted away from the region.
The decision, the youth said, was against an earlier decision taken by the Regional House of Chiefs on May 21 this year to ban illegal logging, commercial charcoal burning and other related environmental degradation activities in the region.
The Spokesperson for the concerned youth of the region, Mr Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese, told the Daily Graphic that the decision by the Regional House of Chiefs to give the one-month grace period for the carting away of the harvested logs from the region was inconsistent with an earlier decision by the house to ban logging and all other activities that affected the environment in the area.
"We feel this decision is not only a betrayal of trust but a smack on the face of our ancestors and the "skins" the chiefs swore by to protect their people and the land as well. Gonjaland, which was noted for its thick forest and arable lands, has not only lost the thick rainforest so fast, but the arable lands are gradually becoming dead soil with attendant rainstorms and ultimate destruction of lives and property," he stated.
He recalled that on May 21, 2021 at a well-attended meeting of the Regional House of Chiefs, a resolution was arrived at to permanently ban illegal logging and other activities that affected the environment, while a five-member committee chaired by the Bolewura, Sarfo Kutugefeso I, was formed to enforce the ban.
He stated that when the committee was about to begin to execute the mandate given it, the same Regional House of Chiefs had made a U-turn on its earlier decision to fight against illegal logging among other menace in the region.
Mr Gbeadese stated further that instead of the chiefs supporting the fight against deforestation in the region by placing a ban on illegal logging, the current decision would give room for the illegal loggers to operate and cut down more trees.
He noted that the decision by the chiefs on June 5, 2021 to announce the carting of harvested logs from the region by the loggers was a recipe for further destruction of the forest reserve in the region.
"How do you refer to an act as illegal and then turn around to create a window of opportunity for same to be perpetuated in a well-arranged backdoor scheme and covert moves?" he questioned.
He added that the illegal logging activities in the past had resulted in the destruction of over two million trees in the Savannah Region, saying the recent decision would aid and further entrench the impunity with which the trees would be felled.
Mr Gbeadese said the situation had reached a point where economic and medicinal trees such as Shea, Dawadawa and Kapok were being cut down with impunity.
He described the decision by the Regional House of Chiefs to give a grace period of one month for all harvested trees to be carted away from the region as inconsistent with the ban on the export of Rosewood from Ghana by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
He, therefore, called on the chiefs to rescind the decision as it would give room for those engaged in the illegality to continue.
When the Daily Graphic contacted the registrar of the Savannah Regional House of Chiefs, he confirmed the decision by the House of Chiefs to give a month’s grace period for logs harvested in the region to be carted away, beginning from July 12, 2021 to August 11, 2021.
He said it was only for logs but he could not give the exact species of trees that had been cut down that could be carted away from the region during the period.