The Forest Commission, on Monday signed separate agreements with 16 communities in the Volta Region for the sustainable management of rehabilitated forest reserves under the Forest Resource Use Management (FORUM) Project for the next five years.
The reserves that would be managed under the agreement are the Kpando-West block, Kpando-Dayi block and the Abutia Hills block.
The Commission had already signed agreements with communities bordering the Adomi River Forest Reserve while those for the Kabo River Reserve were yet to be signed.
The 15-year (1993-2008) FORUM project, which involved a 12.5 million-Euros-German-Technical Support would be handed over to the Forest Commission in February next year.
The agreements were conceived under the Collaborative Forest Reserve Management approach.
Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Mr Urias Kweku Armoo and Mr Owusu Abebrese Acting Executive Director of the Forestry Services Division of the Forestry Commission signed on behalf of the Commission.
Togbega Gabusu VI, President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs presided.
Mr. Winfred Bimah, the Regional Manager of the Commission, said traditional structures, which were used to address most issues in natural resources conservation in the past, became dysfunctional with the take over of forestry management by government.
He said "It is now recognized throughout the developing world that the only way to curb rural hostility and encroachment on forest reserves is to involve local communities in one way or the other in forest management decisions."