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24.05.2004 Regional News

Community fund management committee inaugurated

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Nkawie (Ash), May 24, GNA - A seven-member Community Fund Management Committee for the Tano-Offin forest reserve was on Friday inaugurated at Nkawie in the Atwima district with a call on the Forest Service Division of the Forestry Commission to recruit and train more forest guards to protect the country's forests.

Mr Charles Yeboah, the Atwima District Chief Executive, who made the call, noted that personnel of the division guarding the forest reserves were inadequate to combat illegal logging.

Besides, he said, they were not armed to be able to match the illegal timber operators who were well organised and armed, pointing out that, these were some of the problems militating against the forest guards.

The DCE appealed to the committee to help preserve the country's forests to stem the alarming rate at which they were being depleted. Mr Atta Owusu, Ashanti Regional Forestry Manager, said the creation of the community fund for communities living along forest reserves was to create alternative jobs for them instead of living solely on the forests and thereby destroying them.

He mentioned snail rearing, bee-keeping, grasscutter rearing, batik, tie and dye as some of the alternative jobs the communities could undertake.

Mr Owusu said the community fund management committees would therefore create awareness on the dangers of destroying the forest and that in addition, the committee would also develop and manage the database of the beneficiary groups to facilitate and monitor the continuous performance of the fund.

Mr Mathew Abebrese, Director of Operations of the Forest Service Division, said it was the aim of the Ministry of Lands and Forestry to provide livelihood options for forest communities in order to offset their dependence on the forest.

He named the Atiwa Range, Cape Three Points, Krokosua Hills, the Southern Dry Forest Group and the Tano-Offin in the Atwima district as some of the forest reserves selected to implement the fund on a pilot basis.

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