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30 July 2016

Communities in forest areas to receive funds for development

ForesteyCommunities affected by timber harvesting are to be given a face-lift as contractors pay more in levies following approval for upward adjustment.

A five percent levy as part of Social Responsibility Agreement (SRA) adds to harvest charges by the Forestry Commission to ensure communities benefit directly.

Under Ghana’s Constitution and other legislative frameworks on forest management, the commission is mandated to charge fees on harvested timber.

Half of proceeds from such charges and levies known as Stumpage, by law, is kept by the Forestry Commission.

The rest goes to Administrator of Stool Lands for onward disbursement to District Assemblies and traditional authorities at the expense of local communities.

Head of Collaborative Forest Management at the Commission, Alexander Asare tells Nhyira FM at the sidelines of a stakeholder training workshop that previous arrangements failed to meet expectations of fringe communities within forest areas, hence the introduction of the Social Responsibility Agreement.

“Because of the previous way of implementing the SRA was not quiet up to the expectations of the people; we’ve introduced some innovative approaches. The idea of SRA is that contractors are to pay additional 5% which has nothing to do with the stumpage they’ve paid and that additional 5 percent is to go the forest fringe communities.”

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Communities affected by forest harvest especially timber logging are expected to offer support to the Forestry Commission by serving as watchdogs over the forest.

“They will help to protect the forest from fire, from theft; from any illegalities that might go on to reduce the timber stocking in the forest obstruction. They are also to help in re-establishing the forest in cases where the forest is depleted,” Mr Asare said.

Forestry Commission is organizing training at Akyawkrom for industry stakeholders to improve Social Responsibility Agreements.

Mr. Asare tells participants new and innovative measures are being introduced to democratize forestry social responsibility agreements.

“The community must elect members to constitute an SRA Committee. They should be people that they trust. People that they have confidence in; people who are selfless and are prepared to volunteer their time, their knowledge and expertise,” he said.

Once they have such a body in place, they should are to see to it that the SRA is properly negotiated and all the amounts due have been duly paid.

Mr Asare said, development projects that the monies are going to be used for have been decided together by the community adding the beneficiary communities can go ahead to negotiate such that contractors pay them their entitlements upfront.

 

 

Source: Myjoyonline.com

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