It is now on record that the unsustainable and illegal exploitation of the African Rosewoods species (scientifically known as Pterocarpus erinaceus), is not just a problem for Ghana, but it is a big issue for all the countries in the sub-region.
Evidence indicates that Benin, Ghana, Guinea, the Gambia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone are the hardest hit in the illegal trade in Rosewood. And this is destroying the species and forests of these countries, resulting in devastating landscapes, which is also negatively impacting the food, water and nutrition security of local communities. Besides, it is leading to a huge amount of illegal capital outflow from Africa, thereby worsening the socio-economic and environmental challenges faced by the continent among other negative impacts.
This situation has prompted the African Union Commission and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission to seek measures to address the current unprecedented illegal exploitation of the continent’s natural resources and specifically, forests, wildlife, and fisheries. Of particular concern, is the alarming rate of the Rosewood trade, now considered as the most lucrative illegal operation in wild fauna and flora according to the United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC).
The organization notes that between 2005 and 2014, the cumulative value of seized illegal Rosewood was higher than seized rhino horns, parrots, marine turtles, and pangolins combined.
This aside, if unchecked, the current trends in the abusive exploitation of Rosewood would not only contribute to environmental instability, but also lead to conflicts and violence in many areas, and thereby threaten political stability in many parts of the continent.
It is crystal clear that Africa cannot in any way, sustain this level of illegal and unsustainable forest exploitation, especially considering that the continent is hard hit by climate change. Therefore, she needs her forest resources to meet commitments for forest and landscape restoration, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and biodiversity conservation in order to support Sustainable Development Goals 13 and 15 just to name a few.
For these reasons and concerns about other consequences of the illegal trade in Rosewood in West Africa, the African Union Commission has initiated a series of regional policy dialogues on illegal forest exploitation and trade in Africa. The first of these was co-organized with the ECOWAS Commission and USAID through its West Africa Biodiversity and Climate Change (WABICC) Program in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO).