Ghana loses 135,000ha forest cover annually

Mr.Obed Owusu Addai (standing ,extreme right) Programmes Officer of  Civil Society Organisation giving a presentation.Photo Hannah NkrumahGHANA is losing an average of 135,000 hectares of its forest cover annually, a rate described by environmentalists as serious and called for a concerted effort to halt it.

Agriculture accounts for 50 per cent of the depletion, forest harvesting constitute, 35 per cent; population and housing activities, 10 per cent; and mining, five per cent.

At a workshop in Accra yesterday to senstitise journalists to forest governance, the programmes Officer of Civic Response, a Civil Society Organisation, Obed Owusu-Addai said the country used to have one of the largest forest reserves in the world but that had been depleted at a fast rate.

He said if nothing was done to curb it, the entire country and its ecology would suffer, noting that strong measures were required to deal with the situation before it got out of hand.

Mr. Owusu-Addai noted that though the country had laws on the forest, they were centered at the ’bosom’ of the Forestry Commission which already was burdened with a lot of responsibilities.

In his view, some of the responsibilities of the Commission, including monitoring and safeguarding the forest, should be assigned to other institutions to deal with.

Globally, he said, about 30 million hectares of the forest cover were lost between 1990 and 2010, which, to meant that in every two seconds, an area of the forest comparable to a football pitch was destroyed through illegal logging.

In monetary terms, he said, between 10-15 billion dollars was lost through illegal logging, a situation he described as serious.

He said the European Union had come out with Forest Law Enforcement, Governance Training-Voluntary Partnership Agreement (FLEGT-VPA) for member countries to put adequate measures in place to protect the forest.

The Project Co-ordinator of Friends of the Earth, an environmental non-governmental organisation, Amos Nkpeebo, said, though there were a number of stakeholders in the forest sector, much was not seen in the effective implementation of the FLEGT-VPA.

The forest, he said, was key and urged the public to take active part in safeguarding it.

Mr. Koranteng Agyemang-Prempeh of the Timber Validation Division, Forestry Commission, said the role of journalists in the socio-economic development of the country could not be over-emphasize noting that as a civil society group, it had a stake in safeguarding the forest.

By Francis Asamoah Tuffour

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