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24.01.2005 General News

I planted 58,000 hectares of trees within 18 months-Fobih

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Accra, Jan 24, GNA - Professor Dominic Fobih, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines-Designate, on Monday said 58,000 hectares of trees were planted during his 18-month supervision of the Ministry.

He said it was projected that 80,000 hectares would be planted within five years under the President's Special Initiative on Forestry Plantation, but he did more than half of the target.

Prof. Fobih, who was answering questions before the Appointments Committee of Parliament said his feat, was yet to be rivalled. "Under the Busia Administration 55,000 hectares were planted and that made a great impression on our forestry profile."

He said the Northern Ghana Bio-diversity Conservation Programme had helped in the re-greening of Northern Ghana and the transitional zone, where the forest thins into the savanna.

The Minister-Designate said small dams were being constructed under the Project to help in the replanting exercise.

He called for more private sector participation in the Forestry Sector, as "they yield good returns on investment".

Prof. Fobih said under the Community Plantation Programme, farmers and communities were also encouraged to plant to improve, maintain and sustain the environment.

On Mining, he said a new approach should be adapted to the galamsey question as people went into it to escape poverty. He said he would encourage the proper organisation of the galamsey miners and help to keep them from operating dangerously.

Prof Fobih said the economies of mining communities were pathetic adding, "they would need alternative sources of livelihood". On land administration, he said the Ministry was not responsible for the payment of compensation of acquired lands from traditional authorities. "The agencies for whose benefit such plots are acquired are responsible." He said the Lands Commission and other places associated with land administration were being streamlined to make land acquisition easy. "A one-stop office idea is gradually coming on stream to make this a reality." He said Customary Land Secretariats were being established throughout the country to flush out dubious deals in traditional land sales.

He said such offices would be supervised by the Land Commission adding: "The traditional rulers are cooperating very well". Prof. Fobih said an inventory of all school and public lands was being undertaken to determine the needs, uses and demands of the original owners.

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