Target: Gao Hucheng, Commerce Minister of China
Goal: Stop rapid deforestation in Africa by banning the importation of illegally harvested wood.
Demand for rosewood in China is fueling rapid deforestation in Ghana, Gambia, and other African countries. There is evidence that much of the wood shipped to Chinese markets from these countries is harvested illegally, and may be jeopardizing forest-dependent people.
Rosewood is used by Chinese furniture makers to craft intricate and attractive pieces that many view as status symbols. The popularity of the wood has skyrocketed in recent years, with demand increasing 1,250 percent since 2000. With past sources from southeast Asia now nearly depleted, China has begun importing different species of rosewood from Africa.
Sources indicate Ghana alone has lost nine percent of tree cover from 2001 to 2014. Ghana has already suffered massive deforestation. Previous research suggests just 20 percent of the country’s original forests remain today. Furthermore, rosewood trade in Senegal is intertwined with a civil war in the area, providing illegal funding to the separatist movement.
Though limits on harvesting and exportation of rosewood exist in several African countries, the regulatory agencies responsible for enforcing these rules often lack the resources to do so. Thus, it is up to Chinese officials to stem the catastrophic deforestation from their end. Urge the Commerce Minister of China to ban the importation of rosewood from Africa.
Dear Minister Hucheng,
I am concerned about the rapid deforestation in Ghana, Gambia and other African countries. It has come to my attention that much of the logging occurring these countries is the direct result of high demand for rosewood in Chinese markets. Although at first glance, trade in rosewood with Africa may seem beneficial for both parties, the issue is actually far more complex.
There is evidence that much of the rosewood sold to China is harvested illegally. Illegal logging of rosewood takes this resource from the people who truly need it in these countries, who use it for fuel and medicine. Even more disturbingly, rosewood illegally logged in Senegal has been shown to provide illicit funding to the separatist movement, fueling a conflict that’s cost thousands of lives in the area.
Rapid deforestation in Ghana has resulted in a nine percent loss in canopy cover between 2001 and 2014. If demand for rosewood in China continues to increase, the country risks losing the 20 percent of forests it still has left. Although many African and Asian countries forbid the exportation of rosewood, lack of enforcement and political corruption allow logging to continue. Thus, it is up to the Chinese government to stand against deforestation and stop the importation of wood from threatened forests. Please stop the needless decimation of natural resources in Africa and ban the importation of rosewood.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Anonymous