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23.03.2006 Regional News

Netherlands to assist Ghana extend project in wild fire transitional zones


Accra, March 23, GNA - The Dutch Government is considering the extension of the Wild Fire Management Project involving the rehabilitation of fire-degraded forests to recover lost economic, social and environmental benefits to the rest of the transitional zones. Mr Arie C.A. van der Wiel, the Dutch Ambassador who disclosed this on Thursday said the project, which started in parts of Eastern, Central, Ashanti and Brong Ahafo Regions, with a 12 million Euro support from the Royal Netherlands Government, would be extended to the Afram Plains in the Eastern and the Volta Regions. The project was to implement effective methods to prevent and control forest fires in the semi-deciduous forest type through public awareness, incentives, capacity building for interagency support, knowledge and warning systems for fire risks and hazards implementation.

Mr Van der Wiel was holding discussions with the Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, Professor Dominic Fobih on the midterm review of the Wild Fire Management Project, which ends in 2008. The meeting was held behind close doors. He said despite his Government's preparedness to keep on assisting Natural Resources Management programmes in Ghana, it would want to shift from projects specific centre into institutional support such as capacity building, monitoring and evaluation systems. The Ambassador said the grants were coming from the taxpayers, which the Dutch Government was accountable to and stressed the need for those monies to be used for the intended purpose.

Prof Fobih said there was a long-standing period of fruitful cooperation between the Royal Netherlands Government in the forestry and wildlife sectors, particularly, in environmental protection and conservation areas. "Active support and development assistance for the forestry and wildlife sectors in recent years started in 1994 when the Wildlife Division developed its medium term strategy plan," he said. He said the Royal Netherlands Government had successfully funded and completed Mole Support Project in the Northern, the Kalakpa Support Project in the Volta Region, and a joint funding with the European Union, of the Ghana Forest Certification projects.

The Royal Netherlands Government is currently funding the institutional strengthening of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission together with the Mole National Park Development Project to the tune of about 7.9 million Euros. Prof Fobih said the Ministry had submitted project proposals on the Kyabobo Area National Resource Development Plan Project to the Dutch Embassy in Accra for consideration. He said the project was to develop a functional participatory management structure for the off-reserve area and the Kyabobo National Park, which sought to coordinate and assist the implementation of additional income generating activities in the nine communities around the Kyabobo National Park. Oppong Sasu, Team Leader of Forestry Projects from the Forestry Commission, said since the introduction of the wildfire management project the incidence of fire outbreak had reduced drastically in the transitional project sites and commended the Dutch government for its continuous assistance.