Kumasi, July 21, GNA - Ghana has over the past decade been earning about 120 million dollars annually from timber produced from the country's secondary forests.
Besides, they supply close to 14 million cubic metres of wood valued at 200 million dollars that is consumed as various forms of traditional energy every year.
Mr Kwadwo Wireko-Brobbey, a member of the Forestry Commission, said in spite of its important contribution to the economy, secondary forests were largely unmanaged and over-exploited resulting in ecological and environmental problems.
He was speaking at the opening of a five-day regional workshop on the restoration, management and rehabilitation of degraded and secondary tropical forests.
Participants from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Surinam, Guyana, Egypt, Trinidad and Tobago are attending.
The Ministry of Lands and Forestry and the Inter-cooperation, Switzerland are organising it and the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) is funding the workshop.
Mr Wireko-Brobbey said the only way forest managers could halt the rapid degradation of the secondary forests was to involve the local communities and the district assemblies in the management of the resource.
He said the benefits from those forests by the communities were so enormous and their development and welfare, so closely linked with the secondary forests that it was in the interest of the managers to invite the communities to play participatory roles in sustainable management and utilisation of the forests.
Mr Wireko-Brobbey said it was to encourage local participation that the government had initiated the Collaborative Forest Management (CFA) system.
In an address read on her behalf, Madam Theresa Tagoe, Deputy Minister of Lands and Forestry, described the national forest plantation development programme to increase the nation's forest by 20,000 hectares annually as a success.
She said last year 19,000 hectares were planted throughout the 10 regions and that over 72,000 people are actively engaged in the planting.
Madam Tagoe said through the "modified taungya system", food crops produced through the plantation programme are expected to earn each farmer about 1.8 million cedis per hectare per annum for the next five years.
She said the Ministry is holding talks with the traditional authorities, stool landowners and other relevant stakeholders to ensure effective and efficient implementation of the policy measures.
Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, the Ashanti Regional Minister, asked the ITTO to consider initiating processes and studies to prepare guidelines on restoration of the degraded urban forests.
He spoke about Kumasi once known as the Garden City of West Africa because of the prevalence of amenity trees, parks and gardens that adorned the city and said wanton destruction of the trees and parks as well as environmental degradation had reduced its beautiful scenery.
"We therefore, welcome any support and collaborative efforts and proposals, which can be progressively implemented to help restore the city to its past glory".
Mr. Stewart Maginnis, Head of the Forest Conservation Programme of the World Conservation Union, said many people depended on degraded forest resources to sustain their livelihood and if properly restored and managed these resources could yield more benefits.