Washington-DC based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has reported a sharp (90%) decrease in the illegal export of rosewood from Ghana to China.
Earlier in 2019, EIA revealed that since 2012, over 540,000 tons of rosewood – the equivalent of 23,478 twenty-foot containers or approximately six million trees – were illegally harvested and imported into China from Ghana while bans on harvest and trade have been in place. The illegal rosewood trade has been fuelled by “a massive institutionalized timber trafficking scheme, enabled by high-level corruption and collusion”.
However, a recent follow-up report by EIA shows that rosewood exports from Ghana into China dropped by about 90 percent since July 2019. According to Myjoyonline, “approximately 1.8 million kilograms of rosewood (valued at around $1.5 million) from Ghana entered China in May 2020, whereas Ghana’s rosewood imports to China were valued around $20 million per month around the same period in 2019.”
The improved situation was not only made possible due to the impact of COVID-19 on imports and exports but efforts by China and Ghana alongside international campaigns to end the illegal trade appear. The decrease in changes in governance and enforcement in Ghana’s timber sector has also been said to play a role.
Despite this positive report, sources from the field say that some traffickers are taking advantage of decreased enforcement presence in the forests due to the Covid-19 pandemic to cut down rosewood unabatedly, with anticipation that ports and trade will open up soon between Ghana and China.
The EIA has urged both governments to maintain and increase their efforts to eliminate the illegal rosewood trade and its consequences on livelihoods, fragile habitats, and global climate. In 2019, a 43 years old Chinese national, Huang Yanfeng, was arrested and deported for allegedly transporting a large quantity of rosewood to China illegally.