Forestry Commission to strengthen permit regime
The Forestry Commission says it is reviewing and strengthening its permit regime to effectively regulate the exploitation of Rosewood harvesting in line with the agreement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Deputy Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr John Allotey, told a press conference on Thursday that future extraction of all Rosewood would be based on the CITES approved yearly volume quota for the country.
He said the Commission would also be tasked to ensure domestic processing of Rosewood logs for value addition prior to export to overseas markets.
Mr Allottey said the review of the permits regime and the adoption of stringent measures in the industry were necessary to avoid utilisation levels that would negatively impact their survival.
He noted that all permits in respect of the harvesting, transport and export of Rosewood expired on the December 31, 2016 under a ‘stop-work’ order issued by the Commission, and that all existing agreements for the removal of trees from the Bui Dam enclave were revoked.
“Sector Ministry conducted investigation and revealed that large volumes of Rosewood were being harvested indiscriminately particularly in the three Northern Regions, which poses threats to the forest cover in the regions.”
He said as a result of that, the Minister placed a ban on the harvesting, transporting and exporting of Rosewood in the country, but reports indicated that the activity still persisted which aggravated the threat of environmental degradation and its effects.
He said the four companies, which were given permits under the Bui Dam agreement to remove trees within the enclave and fairways and had not settled their debts with the Bui Authorities would lose any existing stock recorded in their names.
Mr Allotey said in line with the earlier directive which was issued on February 10, 2017, a total of 361 containers of Rosewood belonging to different companies had been impounded and currently located at the ports and some wood depots across the country.
He said to decongest the port and depots, companies would be granted a one-off CITES permit to enable them dispose off their consignments in view of the fact they have already paid all statutory fees to the Commission.
He said all companies would be expected to pay appropriate penalties on consignments for flouting the December 30, 2016 ‘stop-work’ order, explaining that it was only after payment of the penalties that the Commission would grant clearance for CITES certificates to be issued to enable shipment of the exiting seized stocks.
Mr Allotey said the affected companies had been given a two-month notice to complete the exercise.