Kumasi, July 15, GNA- Traditional rulers have been urged to use the important positions they occupy to get involved in forest management and ensure the sustainability of the forests for posterity. Mr Albert Katako, Project Manager of Care International, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) on environment, said traditional rulers could help to share information on critical issues affecting forest governance and forest resource management.
He was addressing about 30 members of the National House of Chiefs (NHC) at a day's workshop on forest management jointly organised by Care and Forest Watch Ghana, also an NGO in Kumasi on Wednesday. The workshop had as its theme: "Facilitating Traditional Institutions Involvement in Natural Resource Management".
Mr Katako noted that the forest was the source of livelihood for over 70 per cent of the people and accounted for nearly 20 per cent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He pointed out that, the loss of forest resources accounted for the poverty among farmers and said factors including the loss of direct access to forest resources, disappearance of arable land due to soil erosion increasing ethnic based conflicts over scarce lands and revenue as well as chainsaw operations.
Mr Katako said for the past 15 years, there had been a high rate of the depletion of the forest and mentioned Tain Two and the Pamu-Berekum Forest Reserves in the Brong Ahafo region as areas, which have been severely affected.
Mr Tweretwie Opoku, a member of Forest Watch Ghana, attributed the loss in forest resources to the lack of incentives for the local management of forest reserves, lack of financial benefits from farmers and the inability of traditional rulers and communities to contribute to decision-making on forest management.
He said the high rate of depletion of the forests called for effective strategies to check the situation and therefore appealed to the traditional rulers to assist to address the problem.
In an open forum, the participants called for an increase in the percentage share of their royalties from the forest, describing the present 7.2 per cent as woefully inadequate.
Odeneho Gyapong Ababio 11, President of the National House of Chiefs who chaired the workshop said forest depletion and management were important issues, which should be the concern of traditional rulers and the Forest Commission as well as the general public. 15 July 04