Chiefs in the three Northern Regions have called on government to establish a partnership with them to manage and protect the environment.
They said such a partnership could institute stronger laws on ranching and environmental protection to check the negative activities of nomadic Fulani herdsmen.
The chiefs said they have the solutions to manage the activities of the Fulani herdsmen and as such any law seeking to prescribe solutions to the problem of Fulani herdsmen should involve them if it was to be effective.
The chiefs expressed this concern in Tamale on Saturday after a roundtable consultation on the Savanna Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) Bill, which is currently before Parliament to factor in their inputs before its passage.
The roundtable was on the initiative of the Houses of Chiefs of the three regions and under the convening leadership of Naa Professor John Nabila, President of the National House of Chiefs.
The chiefs said the activities of nomadic Fulani herdsmen and their cattle grazing activities could adversely affect the creation of a “forested North” and the development of a modernized agriculture as envisaged under SADA if not checked.
They also urged SADA to facilitate the involvement of chiefs in bringing lasting solution to the problem of cattle grazing and sustainable environmental practices as part of activities of SADA.
Dwelling on the deplorable conditions of roads in the three regions, the chiefs urged SADA to focus primarily on accelerating the improvements of the road network as a matter of priority.
On the citing of the headquarters of SADA, the chiefs recommended the need to identify a central location for the establishment of the office and suggested that the issue be resolved administratively and not made an issue for discussion in the Bill.
The participants at the roundtable suggested that the representation of chiefs on the governing board of SADA should be raised from one to three.
They also said if that was accepted the membership of the governing board should be increased to 11 instead of nine and as well as raise the quorum from five to six.
They also recommended that the power to remove a member of the Board by letter from the President should apply only to members appointed by the President.
The chiefs urged that an important source of funding should be the promised start-up funding and that it should be the first major requirement while other independent funding sources were explored to supplement government sources.
They further urged that education should be inserted in the objectives as well as functions of the SADA to make sure that education became an integral part of the Authority.
The chiefs later pledged their commitment to co-operate with SADA on land issues for accelerated development and also become partners while noting that peculiar situations in each traditional area would have to be carefully studied and modalities for allocating lands would have to be carefully developed.
They further recommended that it might be necessary to establish “Animal corridors” to facilitate cattle grazing within specified legal frameworks.