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11.10.2005 General News

About 15 billion cedis spent on afforestation projects

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Hohoe, Oct. 11, GNA - About 15 billion cedis has so far been spent to revamp 330,000 hectares of degraded forests nation-wide under the Forest Plantation Development Management Fund Board.

Osagyefuo Amotia Ofori Panin, Okyehene and Board Chairman of the Fund who announced this said the money was part of the 90 billion cedis loan facility to assist individuals, community groups and NGOs to replant degraded forest, create new commercial and forest plantations to stem the wanton abuse of forest resources in the country.

The Okyehene was speaking to the Ghana News Agency at Hohoe during his recent tour of forest projects in the Volta region. He said for the past 100 years, Ghana's forest cover had reduced from 8.2 million hectares to 1.6 million hectares at a rate of 65,000 hectares per annum.

The Okyehene said unfortunately no serious attempt had been made over the years to replant the 1.2 million hectares of degraded forests out of the remaining forest vegetation of 1.6 million hectares. Osagyefuo Ofori Panin attributed the situation to the conversion of forests to agricultural land, rampant bush fires, excessive logging, over grazing, surface mining, fuel wood collection and charcoal production, all of which were done without proper attention to the capacity of the land to absorbed those pressures.

According to him forest resources constituted an important heritage, with ecological, economic and socio-cultural functions, which needed to be safeguarded for future generations.

The Okyehene said this situation required greater attention from stakeholders, including chiefs, Government, communities, NGOs and individuals to reverse.

He was however optimistic that "even though the situation looked flat at the bottom there was need to teach and sell hope." 11 Oct.05

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