The Government with support of African Development Bank, has rehabilitated degraded forest reserves at Yaya and Nsemere in the Wenchi Municipality of the Brong Ahafo Region.
The venture was made possible under the Community Forestry Management Project implemented by the Forestry Commission.
Under the five-year project, which was started in 2005, farmers within the fringe areas of the reserves were engaged to cultivate hectares of teak plantation and given other sustainable livelihood support.
The beneficiary communities are Asuakua, Sawiah, Buoku, Ahyiem, Amoakrom, Ayigbe, Mallamkrom, Abrefakrom, Konsua, Amangoase, Seikrom, Chiraa and Wasa.
Others are Tromeso, Ahwene, Buoku, Asuofiri, Amoakrom, Bronoso, Twumkrom, Nyamebekyere, Pepewase and Mensakrom.
The farmers cultivated a total of 3,181 hectares of teak in the reserves.
Two hundred (200) hectares of species including citrus, mangoes and cassia samea plantation were cultivated outside the reserves.
Mr Isaac Sintim Yarbi, Sunyani Forest District Manager made this known at a durbar to officially hand over the rehabilitated reserves to the traditional authorities of the beneficiary communities at Asuakua on Tuesday.
He explained that under the project 12 communities were also undertaking livelihood activities of their preferred choices in piggery, livestock and grasscutter rearing.
Mr Yarbi stressed that the project sought to among other things promote afforestation through the establishment of forest plantations while increasing production of agriculture, wood and non-wood forest product through alternative livelihood interventions.
He said the farmers were provided with teak nursery and other species free of charge as well as various training programmes.
A total of 13.250- kilometre footpath and tracks were also rehabilitated to pave way for the successful implementation of the project.
He appealed to the beneficiary communities and their traditional authorities to help clampdown on illegal logging in the reserves.
Handing over the reserves to Nana Barimah Mintah Afari II, Chief of Chiraa who presided over the function, Mr Joseph Osiakwan, Senior Planning Officer at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources expressed concern about bushfires and activities of illegal chainsaw operators that had gradually degraded some forest reserves in the country.
He advised the communities to keep an “eagle eye” and work together to prevent unscrupulous people from entering the reserves.
Mr Osiakwan said the interest of the beneficiary communities should be the priority of the farmers and advised the traditional authorities to collaborate with the Municipal Assembly to enact bye-laws that would deter people degrading the reserves.
Nana Barimah Mintah Afari commended the farmers for the interest they had shown towards the successful implementation of the programme.
He noted that the project and its components especially the animal husbandry segment would go a long way to alleviate the plight of the poor farmers who initially depended on peasant farming for their livelihood.