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16.06.2004 General News

Biodiversity conservation is a collective responsibility - Abebrese

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Accra, June 16, GNA - Mr Matthew Abebrese, Director of Operations at the Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission, on Wednesday said the quest for biodiversity conservation in Ghana should be viewed as a collective responsibility that required every citizen to play a role.

He said the nation's biological diversity needed to be conserved as a priceless heritage.

Mr Abebrese was addressing the media during the launch of the National Biodiversity Awareness Campaign under the High Forest Biodiversity Conservation Project.

The project is a component of the Six-Year High Forest Biodiversity Conservation Project being undertaken with 8.7 million dollars grant from the Global Environment Facility.

The amount was given based on the Genetic Heat Index that indicated the some of the forest reserves in the country were exceptionally rich in some species. Thirty such 30 such areas have so far been identified. The Ministry of Lands and Forestry through its Forest Services Division of the Forestry Commission was carrying out the project in conjunction with other stakeholders including the Ghana Wildlife Society, a nongovernmental organisation.

Mr Abebrese said some achievements had been made towards involving forest communities in resource management, particularly through the formation of the Community Biodiversity Advisory Groups (CBAGS). "It is, however, not enough to concentrate efforts at stimulating public involvement in resource management on the forest fringe communities alone," he said.

"We reckon that the larger society exerts significant pressures on the resource base both directly and indirectly, regardless of their physical closeness or otherwise to the resource."

Mr Abebrese said it was reasonable to assert that a society that was sensitive to environmental concerns would be more willing to make choices and decisions that could reverse any possible threats to the environment.

"Resource use patterns and methods of harnessing them could be redirected in a more sustainable way through environmental awareness campaigns that target all segments of society," he said.

Mr Abebrese said the objectives of the campaign was to present to Ghanaians a picture of the biodiversity situation in the nation's forests lands and to impress on the citizenry the need to secure what remains of the biological resources they harbour against all forms of threats through proactive measures and responsible attitudes. It is also to make the citizenry aware of various initiatives at the national level, and through international cooperation to protect the biological wealth of the country.

He appealed to the media to avail themselves to the cause of raising awareness on the need for all to preserve what remained of the nation's biodiversity.

Mr Oppong Sasu, Team Leader of the Project, said its objective was to protect, rehabilitate and sustainable manage national land, forest and wildlife resources and increase the income of rural communities that owned the resources.

"The global environment objective is to increase the ecological security of globally significant biological resources, especially within the threatened tropical moist forest ecosystems," he said. Ms Geeta Nunoo, a Member of the Board of the Forestry Commission, who chaired the function, said the health of a nation's biodiversity was a measure of the health of the people.

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