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21.04.2004 Regional News

Forestry Commission assists communities to rejuvenate forests

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Ho, April. 21, GNA - The Forestry Commission, under its joint Forest Resources Management Project (FORUM) with GTZ of Germany, to rejuvenate forests in parts of the Volta Region, pays 38 communities, 5.5 million cedis each as incentive for excelling in the preservation of forest resources.

Mr William Bimah, Volta Regional Director of the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Commission said this on Wednesday during the launch of the Ho Customer Service Centre of the Commission. He was responding to a contributors demand during an open forum that a workable incentive and sanctions regime should be part of the drive to stop the depletion of forest resources.

Mr Bimah said similar incentive packages were being worked out at the national level to reward other communities in the country. He suggested that one organisation should be mandated and equipped to enforce the laws on setting illegal bush fires and other infractions related to the forest and its resources.

Mr Henry Atta Paidoo, Director of Human Resources of the Commission said the establishment of the Customer Service Centres was to change the adversarial nature of relations that existed between the Commission and the public for many years.

"We have policed forest resources for a century, it has not worked, the terrain has changed, we now want to involve all stakeholders to manage the forest", he stated.

He said the Customer Service Centres would collaborate with the District Assemblies to formulate strategies to manage forest resources. Mr Paidoo regretted that the assemblies were less visible in the past strategies of forest management, in which the Forestry Commission worked as a "closed shop, internally focused".

Mr Mawutor Goh, Ho District Chief Executive (DCE) blamed the depletion of the forest on illegal bush fires, inappropriate agricultural practices and indiscriminate felling of trees. He hoped activities of the centres would be sustained and public enticed by its good works to offer suggestions and support to help maintain the nation's forests.

Mr Gershon Amaglo, Ho District Customer Service Centre Manager said efforts must be made to check the depletion of the forest. Bribery and corruption are a threat to management of forest resources Abokobi, (G/A), April 21, GNA - Professor Kwabena Tufuor, a Forestry Consultant, on Wednesday said bribery and corruption remained the biggest threat in the management of public forestland resources in Ghana.

He said corrupt practices such as illegal logging, under-reporting of volumes felled; misclassification of species among other things had combined to rob the Government of critically needed revenue for development.

Prof Tufuor was speaking at a two-day Advocacy Conference on Forest Management for Religious Leaders at Abokobi in the Greater Accra Region. The Green Earth Organisation, an environmental nongovernmental organisation, is holding the workshop for leaders from various religious persuasions to draw their attention to the degradable state of the nation's forest resources and how they could help to effect a change. Prof Tufuor said while it was not easy to eliminate corruption, it was possible to reduce its incidence through effective monitoring and the provision of resources to the enforcement agencies to be able to exercise the legitimate powers given them under various legislative enactments and amendments.

He said it was necessary to develop a more effective monitoring and reporting system to assist organizations to supervise and administer projects to guarantee that huge investments were bringing back expected benefits to save the millions of cedis being pumped into the Sector. The Reverend Francis Acquah of the Methodist Church urged Religious Leaders to look beyond the confines of their faith and join hands with other governmental institutions and NGOs to help reverse the negative impact of the degradation of the forest.

He said Religious Leaders should consciously educate and lead their members to set aside time to plant trees and engage in other actions that enhanced the environment.

Rev. Acquah called for the sharing of experiences among the various religious bodies to ensure that they used their collective knowledge to combat the problem.

Mr George Ahadzie, Executive Director, Green Earth Organisation, said the rapid depletion of forest resources called for pragmatic measures to reverse the situation and make for the sustainable management of forest resources for the promotion of economic and social development. 21 April 04