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Timber logging causes degradation, not deforestation — GCCP

The Ghana Civil-Society Cocoa Platform (GCCP) has debunked claims by Mr Joseph Aidoo, Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocobod, that lumbering is the cause of deforestation. It said that the activities of cocoa farmers who cleared forest reserves for cultivation of cocoa crops were rather the cause of deforestation.

Addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, the group said the activities of timber loggers degrade the forest. Seeking to educate the Cocobod CEO, the group explained that the activities of the timber loggers were the cause of degradation and not deforestation.

For instance, they said when agriculture, mining, urban develop- ment and other land uses replace forest, the land is said to have experienced deforestation, however, degradation is a gradual process through which a forest biomass declines, its species composition changes or its soil quality declines.

Mr Aidoo was alleged to have said to a group of chocolate manufacturers in Switzerland that, “though cocoa have been planted on lands in Ghana which in the past were reserved for forests, the activities of lumbering companies reduced the forest before cocoa farmers converting the depleted vegetation into cocoa farms”.

Mr Obed Owusu-Addai, Co-convenor of GCCP, said the statement sought to shift the blame of cocoa driven deforestation to timber loggers which were unac- ceptable. According to him, a forest reference level document, recently developed by the Forestry Commission, identified cocoa production and expansion as contributing more than 80 percent to agricultural deforestation in the country.

He said it was evident in the continuous reported incidences of cocoa farmers encroaching into forest reserves to cultivate new cocoa farms. “Notable cases are the complete takeover of Manzan, Sukusuku, Bia Tawya and most recently Bodi forest reserves by farmers.

Forest reserves such as Krokosua, Sui and Tano Offin are also under serious invasion by unscrupulous farmers with support from local traditional authorities,” he added. Mr. Owusu-Addai stated that the country was implementing several programmes aimed at reducing the rate of forest loss notably, reducing emission from deforestation and forest degradation, sustainable development goals, and most recently, cocoa and forest initiatives of which Cocobod was a major partner, hence to openly religate the fundamentals of the programmes raises issues about the commitments to them.

He said the statement by the CEO damages the cocoa and forest initiative whose central theme was the recognition that production was causing deforestation and that it could be minimised through col- laborative efforts of government, civil society and cocoa companies. “It becomes a betrayal of the process if a key signatory to the programme begins to question the basis for the programme,” he noted.

BY ABEDUWAA LUCY APPIAH

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