Ghanaian NGO partners WWF to undertake forestry project
The National Forestry Forum Ghana, a civil society organisation in collaboration with the Worldwide Fund (WWF), is implementing a year’s project to preserve national forest reserves in four regions in the country.
The project, being implemented in 30 communities from 10 districts in Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo, Western and Central Regions and funded by the European Union (EU) at an estimated cost of GHc75,000.00 would focus on ensuring enforcement of forestry laws through community education.
Mrs Doreen Asumang-Yeboah, National Coordinator of the Forum, announced this at a seminar to educate people from some of the implementing communities in Sunyani on Wednesday.
They were about 50 participants made up of farmers, chainsaw operators and assembly members from Atronie, Nsoatre, Asuokwaa, Kwatire, Adantia and Odumase in the Sunyani Forest District.
Mrs Asumang-Yeboah expressed worry about the rapid depletion of national forest reserves and emphasized the importance to take pragmatic steps to reverse the trend.
She explained that as Ghana was a signatory to the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA), a bilateral agreement between the EU and wood exporting countries, there was the need to help ensure that the country responded to changing international market for timber.
The VPA, among other benefits, is aimed at improving forest governance and ensure that wood imported into the EU has complied with the legal requirements for the partner country.
Mrs Asumang-Yeboah observed that the country’s timber industry stood to lose access about resource sustainability, forest communities’ livelihoods as well as rights and minimum standards of transparency and good governance.
She stressed that the Timber Resource Act 571 banned illegal lumbering for commercial purposes but expressed worry that enforcement of the Act remained a great challenge.
Mrs Asumang-Yeboah entreated the participants to support and help arrest illegal lumbering in their various communities.
She said research had shown that 80 per cent of timber exported in the country annually was illegal, an indication that some timber firms smuggled the product.
Mrs Asumang-Yeboah observed that the local communities played significant role in the enforcement of the VPA and advised the participants to offer their support.
Mr Eric Asare, Assistant Sunyani District Manager of the Forestry Services Division expressed concern about the rate at which chainsaw operators were depleting forest reserves in the district.
He said Ghana lost millions of cedis annually to illegal lumbering and appealed to the judiciary to facilitate speedy prosecution of offenders.
Mr Asare appealed to traditional rulers, assembly members and community leaders to support the arrest of chainsaw operators by providing the division or the police with information on perpetrators.