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16.05.2005 Regional News

Forestry Commission establishes FFN to aid its decentralisation-Otoo

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Akosombo (E/R), May 16,GNA - A Forestry Fora Network (FFN) has been developed by the Forestry Commission to provide various stakeholders including local communities the opportunity to contribute towards decision-making and policy formulation in the Wildlife and Forestry Sectors.

"This forms a good basis for better policy making, better service delivery and good governance by contributing to building public trust in the Forestry Commission and also strengthening the capacity of civil society."

Mr John Otoo, Executive Director, Forestry Services Division of the Forestry Commission, told a group of Members of Parliament attending a working on decentralisation over the weekend.

The workshop was organised by the Local Government Services Commission for the Parliamentary Committees of Local Government and Rural Development and Finance.

He said: "It is envisaged that these forestry Fora will develop into an independent network which would interact with the Forestry Commission on regular and structured basis without actually owning or dominating them.

"The concept of Forestry Fora has been piloted and now well established in seven districts. They meet quarterly with at least two group meetings between Fora meetings to process outcomes." Mr Otoo said representation on the Fora include the Stool Lands, District Assemblies, Timber Contractors, Tree Growers Association and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The rest are the Tourist Board, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Police Service, The Judiciary, Ghana Education Service, the Media, Charcoal Producers and Chainsaw Operators.

"The main issues taken up at the Fora include forestry laws and regulations, royalties, media and awareness campaigns and alternative livelihoods programmes."

He said the Commission was pursuing a vigorous decentralisation policy that would result in improved service delivery. "Stakeholders will have increased access to these services and infrastructure and the local people will show more interest in forestry and wildlife management to address issues on good governance, public accountability, poverty reduction and improved livelihood support." he said.

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