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29.06.2005 General News

Forestry Commission holds seminar for journalists


Sunyani, June 29, GNA - Mr Emmanuel Gay Kumah Dogbe, Brong Ahafo Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission, has called for a comprehensive national policy on wildfire management. He said the policy should offer a pro-active, pragmatic and comprehensive framework to guide and determine government actions towards the management of wildfires.

''Such a policy must ensure consistency in formulation of legislation and byelaws at all levels of governance to deal with issues on wildfires in the country.''

Mr Dogbe was addressing a one-day seminar organised by the Commission to update the knowledge of media personnel on the on-going wildfire management project in Sunyani. The pilot project, embarked on at the country's transitional zones, namely Brong Ahafo, Ashanti and Eastern regions, will last for 10 years and is aimed at helping to protect and manage forest reserves.

Mr Dogbe said even though several policies and legislations had been formulated, the absence of clear-cut policies had led to inconsistencies in the implementation and enforcement of the country's forests laws.

Stressing that wildfires could not be managed through legislation and byelaws, the Regional Manager called for a national wildfire policy that would give direction and help change people's attitudes. Mr Dogbe said the wildfire management project was in three phases, namely the initiation phase, which he said had been completed and the second and third being institutionalisation.

Divisional Officer Atta Ameyaw, Brong Ahafo Regional co-coordinator of Rural Fire of the Ghana National Fire Service, said 26 per cent of the country's gross domestic product was lost annually to wildfires.

He called for punitive measures against perpetrators to serve as a deterrent to others and to enhance the success of the wildfire management project. He said the Fire Service had trained 400 volunteers in Tano and Dormaa districts in the region to monitor the activities of the various wildfire-prone communities. Mr Ameyaw noted with regret that some traditional authorities were linked to some youth in their communities, who harassed the volunteers and members of task force, who help to curb wildfires.