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16.06.2004 Regional News

Personnel involved in preservation of forests to be schooled

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Accra, June 16, GNA - Professor Dominic Forbih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Wednesday said the Ministry would organise training programmes for personnel of civil society organisations involved in forest preservation.

The programmes would equip them to understand and appreciate Government's policies and enable them to contribute meaningfully to the preservation of forests.

Prof Forbih was speaking when Mr Basharat Ali, the new United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO) Director for West Africa, paid a courtesy call on him in his office.

He appealed to the FAO Director to support the Ministry with technical assistance, saying that most nongovernmental organisation involved in environmental and forest preservation matters usually went against government policy as a result of insufficient information about the technicalities involved.

He said, "to ensure a sustainable preservation and management of forest reserves, the Ministry is also taking measures to undertake a vigorous public awareness programme to sensitise the public about the need and benefits of forest preservation".

Prof. Forbih said the Ministry was working with Traditional Rulers to ensure that available lands, other than forests, were freed for farming and construction purposes.

"We are trying to make them understand that freed land is a resource that should be made available for development and it is likely to yield benefits for society."

He also told the FAO Director that the Ministry was developing a proposal to seek technical and financial assistance from the FAO, to establish training centres for local carpenters.

Prof. Forbih said, "local carpenters are helping the country and the ECOWAS Sub-Region a lot in the area of wood processing into furniture, artefacts and other usable items and we have seen the need to help them to upgrade their skills in order to contribute more effectively to the development of the country and the Sub-Region".

He praised FAO for its support to farmers in the Kakum Forest environs, in the Central Region, who faced some challenges from elephants in the area, saying that, since the FAO helped in creating alternative attractions for the elephants in the forest, the farmers had been free from the pressure they faced from the animals.

The Minister, however, said that some of the elephants had moved to nearby districts and a similar assistance would be needed from the FAO to prevent them from causing havoc to farms in those areas.

"As a Government we are making every effort to ensure maximum food security in the country, but the problem we face now is that most of the farms are in the deep forests and the farmers have difficulties carting their produce from the farms to the towns."

Prof. Forbih, therefore, appealed to the FAO Director for technical assistant to provide wagon vehicles to the farmers to cart their produce to market centres.

Mr Ali gave the assurance that he "would personally see to it that your proposal, both the ones already before the FAO and the ones yet to be presented would go through successfully". He thanked the government of Ghana for hosting the FAO Regional Office and for agreeing at short notice to host the next FAO conference in Accra. 16 June 04

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