The Dodzi Co-operatives Plantation Project (DCPP), a community-based initiative for the establishment of woodlots last Thursday commenced at Ve-Agbome in the Hohoe District of the Volta Region with a symbolic planting of 30 out of the 200 acres of teak plantation.
Ms Louise Dorge, a Dutch National and philanthropist is funding the woodlots project with an initial sum of 100 million cedis, in collaboration with the Ve-Agbome Traditional area, the Forest Protection and Resource Use Management (FORUM) Project and the Forestry Services Division.
Mr James Addey, Jasikan District Forestry Officer, told a durbar of farmers that the country's forest cover had dwindled to 1.7 million hectares from the previous 8.2 million hectares in the last 50 years as a result of urbanisation, over-logging, illegal chain-sawing and bushfires. He said an estimated 65,000 hectares of forest was lost and degraded annually and that if stringent measures were not deployed to check the rampant abuses, the country would begin importing timber for domestic and industrial usage.
Mr Addey called on Ghanaians to report recalcitrant citizens whose activities impinge negatively on the environment especially the forest. "The importance of trees is irreplaceable," he added. He entreated individuals, groups and Non-Governmental Organisations with more than two hectares of woodlots to explore the opportunities in the Government's Plantation Fund to boost plantation ventures in their domain.
Mr Francis Bilson Ogoe, Ho Municipal Forestry Officer, advocated that idling tracts of lands be used in the creation of woodlots and plantations and appealed to traditional areas as well as landowners to embrace the concept and give it a try. He said a full length of "Sanfra" tree specie, which was hitherto disregarded, was now attracting 30 million cedis and urged the public to mainstream tree growing to make them economically self-reliant.
Mr Daniel Fianu-Dezor, Environmental Sociologists and Project Co-ordinator said 200 acres of land would be planted into teak woodlot with support from the community. He cited his personal experience in Mali, where wells had to be sunk over a mile deep before getting access to water, attributing the phenomenon to lack of forest cover due to over exploitation of the resource.
Togbega Delume VII, Paramount Chief of Ve-Agbome Traditional area, pledged to commit more land to the course of the project and others to come. He urged the people to embrace the project and see it as their bonafide property and sustain its growth and protection.
Togbega Delume symbolically planted the first row of teaks as his goodwill gesture towards the success of the plantation.