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21.05.2004 Regional News

" Make Wildfire Management policy workable", Mahami Salifu

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Bolgatanga, May 21, GNA- A day's consultative workshop to discuss a draft National Wildfire Management Policy took place in Bolgatanga on Thursday, with a call on participants to make inputs for the document to become workable. The Ministry of Lands and Forestry (MLF), Care International, and the University for Development Studies (UDS), jointly organized the meeting, with funding from the Netherlands government.

The Upper East Regional Minister, Mr. Mahami Salifu, making the call in an address, reminded the stakeholders that the cost of commercial timber lost to wildfires in the country was more than 24 million US dollars each year. He said for the Upper East Region in particular, the devastating effect of bushfires is a major contributory factor to the rapid degradation of agricultural land.

" The Upper East Region provides a good example of an area that needs to manage its land and vegetation with much seriousness now than ever before", the Minister said. He said it was heart-warming for the workshop organizers to gather experts, community leaders, NGO representatives, public servants, donors and other interest groups in the region to deliberate on ways to curb the menace of wildfires.

Mr. Mahami said the perennial ritual of bushfires poses a key threat in efforts to check land degradation, deforestation and loss of biodiversity, in an attempt to reduce widespread poverty. He assured the participants that government would continue to provide the right leadership to broaden the scope for all sectors of the society to take part in policy making and implementation. The Minister urged participants to work hard and pool their expertise, ideas and other resources for the benefit of society, bearing in mind "the serious threat wildfires pose to our very survival."

In an overview, Mr. Oheneba Amponsah Agyeman, Co-ordinator of the Wildfire Management Project (WFMP) of the Forestry Commission said the 14-page draft Policy was an outcome of the WFMP to provide a framework for effectively managing wildfires. He said the policy would ensure effective prevention and control of wildfires, introduce alternative natural resource management systems, and promote applied research on wildfires, and institute incentives and rewards in wildfire management.

Mr.Agyeman called on the participants to play their roles well to ensure effective management of Ghana's dwindling natural resources just like how neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger have succeeded in doing.

The Paramount Chief of the Bolgatanga Traditional Area, Naba Martin Abilba II, who chaired the function, said Ghanaians must feel ashamed that despite our resourcefulness that has been recognized worldwide, " we still cannot do some simple things on our own, like our more disadvantaged neighbours are doing well. He said it was time for all to get involved in efforts to put a stop to the devastating consequence of wildfires and other negative practices that deplete natural resources.

Naba Abilba II, pledged the full support of traditional authorities in his area in these efforts.

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