More than 10,000 people living in forest fringe communities in the Brong-Ahafo and Western Regions are to be offered job opportunities under the Ghana Forest Investment Propramme (GFIP) to be implemented over the period of five years.
The programme will provide farm tools, alternative livelihood schemes, training programmes and incorporation of tress in farming systems.
Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, who took his turn yesterday in Accra to highlight the state of implementations of programmes and project being pursued by the ministry, said the FIP was a targeted programme to address the underlying cause of deforestation and forest degradation.
He said it formed part of Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest (REDD+) climate change mitigation and adaptation activities with funding from the Climate Investment Fund.
Nii Mills said the National Forest Plantation Programme, since its re-launch in 2010 had seen 21,665 hectares, about 54,163 acres, being planted with trees, creating 2,167 jobs, stressing that the strategy adopted by the programme involved the incorporation of food crops production in the early stages of the plantation development to increase food production in the area.
“Currently due to limited funding, the strategy is to maintain all plantations that have been established since 2002, over 140,000 hectare or about 350,000 acres, of such plantations are being maintained by the Forestry Commission,” he added.
He said the government recognised the importance of the programme and was committed to securing “sustainable and predictable funding” for the programme.
The minister disclosed that the government was considering the Atewa Range Forest Reserve, the sources of river Densu, Ayensu and Birim which provided the main sources of water to Accra, to a status of a national park to increase its protection.
He said the ministry was in discussion with two non-governmental organisations (Permian Global and A-Rocha Ghana), to develop modalities for managing the reserve as national park with the Forest Commission, expressing concern that the reserve had “come under massive attack from galamsey and chainsaw operators”.
Nii Mills added that the Dutch government was supporting the two bodies with the initial funding for the creation of community awareness regarding the proposed project.
He said the major challenges of the forestry sub sector were dwindling government budgetary allocations for forest management activities for the forest plantation development propramme, inadequate private sector investment in the sub sector, illegal chainsaw operators and illegal mining in the forest reserves.
Nii Mils said the ministry had been promoting Bamboo ad Rattan Development Programme (BARADEP) since 2002 as an alternative raw material to timber, adding that BARADEP had undertaken a number community sensitisation and awareness programmes on the conservation of bamboo and rattan resources.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman