UNDP, partners build capacity to manage wildfires and protect forests

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Forestry Commission (FC) and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) is building capacities of fire volunteers and other relevant institutions to effectively manage wildfires in Ghana.

The training is to improve on the operations of fire volunteers, personnel from GNFS, National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), FC, and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) from the Volta, Eastern, Ashanti, Savannah, Bono East, and Ahafo regions, identified as fire hotspots in Ghana.

It is under the “SDG Partnership for Sustainable Forestry in Ghana” initiative, funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea, through the UNDP Seoul Policy Centre.

‘’We have been learning important lessons on wildfire management from South Korea, which have been very effective in preventing and managing these fires for several decades now”, Mr Kingsley Bekoe Ansah, a Programme Coordinator at the UNDP Ghana office, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in Kumasi.

“This training, therefore, provides a platform for us to share such knowledge to frontline firefighters at the local level to enhance their capacity to be able to protect our forests and the environment from wildfires.’’

The training saw more than 180 participants from 16 districts in the beneficiary regions, taken through topics such as fire causes, fire behavior, wildfire prevention, pre-suppression, and tactical firefighting techniques.

Wildfire has been identified as a potent threat to forest conservation around the world.

It does not only destroy critical ecosystems but also has a devastating impact on livelihoods and properties.

It is also considered a driver of climate change through the emission of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

In Ghana, wildfires have destroyed farms, wildlife and threaten food security and human survival, especially in the Northern Savannah areas.

Human activities such as hunting, palm wine tapping, and charcoal production, among others, have been identified as some of the major causes of forest fires in Ghana.

Mr Bekoe Ansah noted that improving capacities to prevent and manage these fires had been identified to be critical in efforts towards protecting Ghana’s forests.

He called for a stronger collaboration among key actors at the local level to prevent wildfires and protect the forests for people and the planet.

Mr Thomas Tagoe, a Fire Officer at Nkoranza North Municipality in the Bono East Region described the training as an insightful one that would influence techniques in combating wildfires.

Ms Elizabeth Senanu, a NADMO Official from the Offinso Municipality noted that the training had provided useful information that needed to be communicated to the grassroots to help curb wildfires.

Participants underscored the importance of such capacity building exercises and called for the training to be extended to other stakeholders on a regular basis and create more awareness and build synergies towards effective wildfire management.

Source: GNA

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