Sunyani March 30, GNA - About 1,626 hectares of degraded forest reserves in the Sunyani municipality have so far been planted with tree seedlings since an re-afforestation programme was begun in 2002.
Mr. Paul Sowalo, Sunyani Municipal Manager of the Forestry Service Division who disclosed this on Wednesday named the reserves as Nsemere 885 hectares, Tain One, 595 hectares and Tain Two, 3072 hectares. He was addressing a one-day meeting of the Sunyani forest forum at which members discussed issues affecting sustainable management of the Municipal forest resources and possible solutions.
The 42 participants included security personnel, representatives of the Association of Traditional Healers and other organisations, NGOs, Chiefs, chain saw operators and the media.
Mr. Sowalo noted that the late release of funds for payment for people contracted to nurse seedlings, pegging and planting was affecting the re-afforestation exercise.
He said the introduction of the new policy where staff of the Forestry Department had been reduced and local communities involved in the protection of the forests had led to little success in the protection and maintenance of forest resources over the years. Under the new policy, the communities are contracted to carry out boundary clearing and to support in preventing and arresting people who engage in illegal logging and chain saw operations", the Municipal manager added.
Mr. Sowalo explained that the delay in releasing funds and non-payment of people contracted for the exercise had discouraged the people in helping to protect the forest from wild fires.
He cited that persons contracted for the boundary clearing in 2002 and 2003 had not been paid, even though the Municipal office had presented the contract sum.
Nana Bosoma Asor Nkrawiri, Omanhene of Sunyani traditional area who presided in a progress report stated that the Sunyani forest forum was a civil society group that promoted forest governance in the Sunyani area to ensure the sustainable management of the forest resources.
The chief commended members for their wonderful performances in their various communities in spite of the numerous challenges that faced them.
"Volunteerism fatigue, inadequate funding, weak linkage between the forum and community forest committees and lack of strategic plans to guide members' operations, are some of the challenges", he mentioned. Nana Asor expressed the hope that the forum would continue to be among the credible organizations focusing on the protection of the forests and their resources.