Submerged Ghana forest may point to timber bonanza

Logging of forests submerged long ago by hydroelectric dam projects could result in underwater timber bonanzas worth billions of dollars in tropical countries.
/~For instance, exploiting submerged rot-resistant hardwoods such as ebony, wawa or odum trees in Lake Volta, Ghana, the largest man-made lake in Africa, could also slow deforestation on land and curb emissions of greenhouse gases linked to burning of forests.
Logging was scheduled to start late in 2008, according to Robert Bamfo, head of climate change at the Ghana’s state Forestry Commission. "This will reduce the pressure on our forests," said Bamfo. "The project aims to harvest 14m cu metres of timber worth about $4bn."
Ghana is being deforested at a rate of about 1.9%/year.
Logging will be led by a privately-owned Canadian company, CSR Developments, which says it aims to invest $1,000m in Ghana. Cutting equipment can be mounted on barges, guided by sonars to grab trees below water.
"There are very similar circumstances in numerous countries around the world, including Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Brazil, Surinam, Malaysia and others," Bamfo said. "The potential is there – they are waiting to see the outcome of the Ghana project."
The trees are still strong, Bamfo said, even though they have been under water since construction of the Akosombo Dam in the 1960s.
Harvesting will cost more than on-land, but is still commercial because of the value of the timber.
The United Nations is looking at ways to slow deforestation, blamed for emitting almost 20% of greenhouse gases from human activities. Trees soak up carbon dioxide as they grow, and release it when burnt or when they rot.
Harvesting of submerged forests may therefore in some circumstances be able to earn an extra income stream in carbon credits (for more on carbon credits, search for ”carbon credits” on www.foodprocessingafrica.com ).

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