A seven member Ghana government delegation is attending the 12Th session of the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF12) at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Led by Professor Bruce Banoeng-Yakubu, Chief Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR), it includes Mr. Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, (FC) Mr.Musah Abu-Juam, Technical Director of Forestry, Mr. Joseph Osiakwan, UN Forest Forum Focal Point, Mr. Oppon Sasu, Director of Donor Relations, Forestry Commission, Mr. David Kpelle, Director of Operations, Wildlife Division and Mr. Emmanuel Okrang, Communications Officer, MNNR.
The five-day meeting is focusing on technical issues related to sustainable forest management and strategies to promote the implementation of the Strategic Plan. It is also is looking at the contribution of forests to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, including the strengthening of cooperation and political commitment at all levels.
Presenting Ghana’s case at the forum, Prof. Banoeng-Yakubu said that the global relevance of forests can only be appreciated if member countries implement strategies and actions that will enhance the viability of the contribution of forests to national socio-economic development and global environmental sustainability.
To promote sustainable forest management, he mentioned that Ghana has reviewed and launched a new Forest and Wildlife Policy (2012) that outlines measures to promote sustainable forest management.
In addition, he said that the country had launched the Ghana Forestry Development Master Plan 2016- 2036 as the national framework to promote sustainable forests management.
As part of the efforts to combat forestation and forest degradation and to implement measures towards mitigation the impact of climate change, the Chief Director, said “We have successfully prepared and initiated the implementation of the Ghana Reducing Deforestation and Forest Degradation, the Ghana REDD+Strategy 20216, with funding from the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility of the World Bank.
Additionally, Prof. Professor Bruce Banoeng-Yakubu said that the country had launched the Ghana Forestry Plantation Strategy, 2016-2040, which seeks to promote the regeneration and restoration of degraded forests, other forest landscapes and provide alternatives to the supply of wood from the natural forests.
To create awareness on the importance of forests, he noted that the celebration of the International Day of the Forests has been instituted as an annual five month long programme that includes community durbars, television and radio discussions throughout the country.
Furthermore, the Chief Director mentioned that trees are planted throughout the country between May and June each year taking into consideration the International Biodiversity Day and the World Environment Day respectively.
Opening the forum, Mr. Peter Thompson, president of the UN General Assembly reminded the member states that despite forests being essential to balancing the global ecosystem, to maintaining human well-being decades of unsustainable use and management practices have destroyed degraded and depleted enormous quantities of the planet’s natural forests.
“To this day, 13 million hectares of forests continue to be lost each year. The reasons for this deforestation are multitudinous, but they are all largely driven by human activity. They include population growth and resulting consumption pressures increasing the demand for agricultural land, while at the same time expanding urban centres onto forest lands. They include the impacts of mining activities and the unsustainable harvesting of forest resources, such as native timber and palm oil”, he noted
Stressing that the meeting has come at a critical time in global efforts to protect the health of our forests, he said that “Forests are home to more than 80 percent of all land-based species of animals, plants and insects”.
To buttress his point, Mr. Thompson said that “an estimated 1.6 billion people – or 25 percent of the global population – depended on the forest for food security and nutrition, for income and livelihoods, and as a source of energy, fuel and other natural resources.