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14.08.2004 Regional News

FORUM develops legal framework for forest management

By GNA

Abutia (V/R), Aug 14, GNA - The Forest Resources Use Management Project (FORUM) being implemented in the Volta Region, has developed a legal framework of Collaborative Resource Management on ownership, management and benefit sharing in the sector.

The concept to be replicated in other regions, would promote, protect and sustain forest resources management on on-reserves, with special emphasis on off-reserves.

Mr Winfred K. Bimah, Team Leader of the Project, briefing the German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Peter Linder, on a familiarisation visit to some FORUM projects in the region on Friday, said full-scale implementation would commence next year.

The project is a 10 million Dutch-mark grant and a 12 million Euro loan bilateral co-operation between the governments of Ghana and Germany. It is aimed at the rehabilitation of degraded forests, protection of natural forests and intensification of the establishment of private woodlots.

Mr Bimah said certain statutory laws still militated against the smooth implementation of the concept, which needed to be reviewed. These include, the Timber Concession ACT, which vested ownership of tree species in the Executive instead of landowners while the mode of distribution and payment of royalties must favour landowners and not the Forestry Service Division (FSD) or government.

Mr Bimah said the Project since its inception had created over 18,000 jobs in nursery production, fire management, rehabilitation of degraded forest reserves and other income generating activities. He catalogued the successes of the project as the rehabilitation of about 6,500 hectares of degraded forest, the establishment of 2,600 hectares of woodlots, improving the capacities of stakeholders as well as encouraging sedentary farming among farmers.

Mr Bimah appealed to the German government to extend the project period to 2010 instead of the 2005 deadline, by which time sufficient capacity would have been built within staff of FSD and communities to manage and guard against forest destruction and degradation on a sustainable basis.

He commended the German government for the significant role it was playing in the socio-economic development of the people of the region and Ghana.

Mr Michael Schloivoigt, Project Review Consultant, said the concept of community involvement and other stakeholders in the ownership and management of forest resources would check the perennial illegal activities such as bushfires, indiscriminate logging and encroachment of forests.

He said it had been projected that off-reserve plantation would increase the region's forest cover from 6,000 hectares in 1996 to 14,000 hectares in 2009.

Mr Schloivoigt said woodlot fuel production from small-scale plantation would increase from zero cubic metres in 1994 to 50,000 cubic metres per year in 2009.

He said the windfall would include more hectares being planted, increased biodiversity and agricultural productivity, improved water quality, soil and wildlife and diminished pressure on on-reserves, with stakeholders taking a centre-stage in the economic, ecological and social management of forest resources.

Mr Linder said the Project was dear to the German Embassy and called for sustained efforts to ensure success.

The Ambassador said he could not give a definite answer for the extension of the project period but urged them to "press the right buttons".

The tour took the Ambassador to Abutia Hills and Forest Reserve and Nudowukope woodlot at Akatsi. 14 Aug. 04

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