The Minister for Lands, Forestry and Mines, Madam Esther Obeng Dappah, has stressed on the need for Ghanaians to help protect the natural resources of the country, especially forest products, in order to ensure the judicious use such resources, for the benefit of the state.
She said her outfit had embarked on a national education, to advice those who depended on the use of forest products such as timber to produce furniture, and other products to use the materials properly.
This was contained in a speech, read for her at the closing ceremony of a two-week trainers-of-trainers workshop, for two-hundred master craftsmen from the southern sector of the Volta Region, at Ho, to build their capacity.
The sector Minister noted that the training workshop became necessary, in view of the inefficient use of wood products, as well as mismanagement of such products over the years, which she observed, was fast depleting the forests.
Madam Obeng Dappah said wood products produced in the country, in most cases, failed to meet international standards, and stressed on the need for workers in the wood industry, to work hard to attract the international market.
She noted that forest products were under threat as a result of human activities, and that people used the resources anyhow, without any adherence to standards.
She disclosed that the Ministry of Lands and Mines would soon set standards that all craftsmen would follow, to ensure uniformity, which would meet the demands of the international market.
Madam Obeng Dappah urged master craftsmen to take advantage of the training programme to upgrade their knowledge, and advised the participants to impact the knowledge acquired, to others who did not have the opportunity to participate in the programme.
She also called on them to add value to wood products, in order to earn more income and create wealth for themselves.
The Human Resource Director of the Forestry Commission, Mr. Henry Atta Pardoo, said the government recognised the monumental challenges confronting the wood industry.
He named high deforestation which affected plant and animal growth, as one of such challenges.
He said the Commission would not encourage illegal harvesting of timber and inefficient use of resources, noting that in view of the numerous challenges facing the Commission, a Natural Resource and Environmental Governing Project, to efficiently plan and ensure judicious use, was being put in place alongside building the capacity of craftsmen to regularise the forestry sector.
Mr. Pardoo said the project was in line with government policy to help bring more investors to the wood industry, to promote the economic use of timber.
The Ho Municipal Chief Executive, Mr. Mawutor Goh, noted that one of the major problems confronting the Forestry Commission, was the illegal harvest of timber by chainsaw operators, and called on all to assist the municipal and district assemblies, to prevent chainsaw operators from going about their activities, so as to protect the forests.
Mr. Goh said craftsmen ought to show more interest in the protection of the environment, as that was important to help promote their businesses, because if efforts were not made to protect the forests, where craftsmen get their raw materials, they would not be able to execute their activities in future.