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21.12.2004 General News

$8.7m to cater for High Forest Biodiversity Conservation Project

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Tarkwa (W/R) Dec. 21 GNA Global Environmental Facility (GEF) has provided a grant of eight point seven million dollars to cater for High Forest Biodiversity Conservation Project in Ghana.

The Government of Ghana with the assistance of the GEF has designed a six- year High Forest Biodiversity Project (HFBP) as a component of the umbrella Natural resources Management Programme (NRMP) under the Ministry of Lands and Forestry (MLF).

And the money is to cater for additional "incremental cost" of the key elements of the Forest Protection and National Biodiversity Conservation Strategies.

Mr John Eric Manu, Western Regional Manager of Forestry Services Division (FSD) said this in an address read on his behalf at the inauguration of Community Fund Management Committee (CFMC) held at Tarkwa.

He said the project seeks to contribute directly to the global benefits of environmental management as well as strengthening government's commitment towards the establishment of collaborative structures for biodiversity conservation and management.

Mr. Manu mentioned some of the objectives of the projects as establishing selected reserves or portions of reserves as Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs) and Protected Provenance Areas (PPAs) that would be taken out of production.

Others are pilot activities other than logging in selected forest reserves, including eco-tourism, sustainable production of non-timber forest products and restoration of degraded forest.

Mr Manu said the establishment of these GSBAs/PPAs would, however, in some cases result in the loss of access to royalties and other benefits to forest fringe communities.

As a result, he said, the HFBCP intends to establish a Community Investment Fund (CIF) for the development of sustainable community-based enterprises in affected forest fringe-communities to mitigate these losses.

To this end, Mr. Manu said, a total of two point five million dollars ($2.5m) is to be disbursed under the CIF, which primary purpose is to identify and support ecologically friendly economic ventures that will demonstrate to industries and decision-makers that economic growth can be consistent with biodiversity conservation.

He said ARB Apex Bank has been identified to manage the revolving fund on behalf of the Ministry through the accredited Rural Banks operating close to target/beneficiary communities.

Mr. Manu however, said the effective management of the fund does not rest with the Banks alone, but through the complimentary support of traditional authorities and the fringe-communities who own the land. 21 Dec.04

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