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04.04.2006 General News

Ghana loses $24m annually to forest fires

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Kumasi, April 4, GNA - Twenty-four million dollars worth of merchantable timber is lost to wildfire annually in the country's forests.

Wildfires have also severely reduced the productive capacity of the country's forests by three percent in annual gross domestic product. Dr Dominic Blay Junior, Director of the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), made this known at the opening of an inception workshop on "Fire-Management and Post-Fire Restoration with Local Community Collaboration in Ghana" at Fumesua near Kumasi on Tuesday. It was organised by FORIG and the Resources Management Support Centre (RMSC) of the Forestry Commission (FC) in collaboration with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) with funding from the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO).

Community-based forest management and conservation organisations, opinion leaders, forest managers, fire officers and community fire volunteers from 14 communities in the Dormaa, Juaso, Begoro, Agogo and Afram Plains forest districts are attending the workshop. Dr Blay, who is also the National Project Co-ordinator, said beside the timber, fire had had major impact on other forest cover such as water supply and quality as well as soil fertility and biodiversity, adding that, fire was considered the most important single threat to the integrity of forest.

He said the project aimed at increasing benefits for local communities from forest products in fire prone areas by enhancing fire management activities and thereby protecting timber, non-timber forest products and other resources.

Dr Blay said the project focused on working with the local communities in order to stop the progress of forest loss due to uncontrolled fires.

Mr Martin Nganje, a representative of IUCN, said for conservation efforts to succeed, there was the need for an institution that would help bring government, NGOs and the private sector together to achieve the desired results.

He said the IUCN sought to protect not only the forest, but all other natural and environmental resources that were been threatened by human activities. Mr Nganje said the Union would continue to build the capacities of local community members to conserve and protect natural resources. 04 April 06