Ghana is currently earning more revenue from plantation timber than the natural one. Under a bidding programme, aimed at ensuring fairness and transparency in the allocation of timber resources on the basis of price, a total revenue estimated amounts to ¢101.2 billion.
A breakdown of total revenue expected from plantation timber is estimated at ¢73.8 billion. Revenue collected stands at ¢38.9 billion while outstanding balance is ¢34.9 billion. On the other hand, expected total revenue from natural timber is estimated at ¢27.46 billion. Total paid to date is ¢4.3 billion while total outstanding balance is ¢23.1 billion.
Lands, Mines and Forestry Minister, Prof. Dominic Fobih, stated this when he took his turn at meet the press series in Accra. Prof. Fobih recalled the launch of the National Forest Plantation Development Programme in 2001 to restore the nation's forest cover and create employment for the rural and depressed urban communities.
He said currently, the programme is being implemented under six projects approaches which are yielding results. These include government forestry and private sector plantation development projects and community forestry management projects among others.
"To date the total area planted under the various approaches is approximately 81,000 hectares. The programme has also made significant achievements in the area of food production, securing water catchments areas as well as generating employment."
Further, he said a total of 46,058 full time employment and 1,049,833 part time employment have been created. He stated that the ministry is actively promoting the use of bamboo and rattan as an alternative and a supplement to the wood deficit in the country.
According to the minister, 179 persons have been trained in the management of bamboo harvesting and propagation in four communities. Prof. Fobih added that 159 people have been trained in bamboo and rattan furniture, craft and construction skills, while plans are in place to train more.
"As part of the sensitization programme under the project, an exhibition was mounted for the mining sector on the use of bamboo for land reclamation after mining operations has ceased."
Further, he said District Chief Executives have been sensitized to spearhead the bamboo and rattan programme.
As a new focus for commercial plantation in degraded forest, Professor Fobih announced that his ministry was sourcing funds to establish a venture capital fund for its development.
This, he explained is due to the fact that public funds are no longer adequate to sustain the pace and also meet the target set for large scale development. Prof. Fobih said his ministry was embarking on a programme to reclaim lands degraded through illegal mining activities for economic use.
"The Ministry has adopted a policy to accommodate and support small scale mining within a legal framework. Development efforts have been made to identify suitable areas on pilot basis for illegal miners/galamsey operators particularly those from Prestea."
He said since June 2005 1000 illegal miners have been relocated at Japa and 100 at Adjumadium, while others are expected to move to Oguakrom in subsequent months.
"The success of this exercise will help replicate other areas." He hoped the initiative will lead to a better organisation, control and monitoring of small scale mining operations, adding, "the increased production that will be derived from these small scale miners will be sold to the PMMC for value addition.
Last year, a total of 46,570 ounces of gold and 778,401 carats of diamonds were realized from small scale mining production." He said government has also provided financial assistance of ¢4.4 billion to the small scale miners at Bolgatanga and Konongo.