Mills launches Forest Plantation Development Programme
President John Evans Atta Mills on Wednesday launched the National Forest Plantation Programme at Abofour in the Offinso Municipality with an invitation to all Ghanaians to join in the efforts at halting the degradation of the country’s forests.
“We can no longer sit idly by and encourage the degradation of our forest resources and reserves through the activities of some unscrupulous people,” he said.
President Mills expressed concern at the fast-paced reduction of the nation’s forest cover, noting that from 8.2 million hectares in 1900, it has now shrunk to 1.6 million hectares due to illegal logging and chainsaw operations, farming, burning and construction.
President Mills said the recklessness has led not only to a huge loss of revenue to the State but had negatively affected the ecology and eco-system to the disadvantage of the nation’s development.
The Lands and Natural Resources Ministry and the Forestry Commission, he said, had been directed to collaborate with the Tourism Ministry to develop strategies to safeguard the nation’s tourist sites and river bodies for job creation.
The national security apparatus has also been instructed to deal with those ruining the reserves with impunity.
President Mills said a Security Committee is already in place to enforce the ban on the use of chainsaw, adding that he was confident that these measures would help to restore sanity and ensure sustainable management of the forest.
President Mills asked all related sector agencies, land owners, local communities, corporate entities and stakeholders to embrace and support the successful implementation of the programme for the benefit of both the present and future generations.
The programme, which is expected to create over 51,000 jobs, is designed to reduce the rate of deforestation and significantly bring down its effects on rural communities.
Under the programme degraded forest reserves and off reserve areas would be replanted to achieve sustainable resource base that would satisfy future demands for industrial timber and enhance environmental quality.
Funding for the programme would come from the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Funds; District Assemblies’ Common Fund; Plantations Fund Board and the Mineral Development Fund.
Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, said trees to be planted under the programme would include both indigenous and exotic species and would be implemented in 100 Districts across the country.
Nana Wiafe Akenten, Omanhene of the Offinso Traditional Area, commended the Government for the programme, which he said would make the people to appreciate the need to ensure sustainable management of the forest.
Mr Kofi Opoku-Manu, Ashanti Regional Minister, said it was imperative to protect the flora and fauna of the Country in order to prevent further damage to the environment.