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National Stakeholders’ forum on forest conservation held

By Julius K. Satsi, GNA

Accra, July 7, GNA – Friends of the Earth –
Ghana (FoE-Ghana), a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) on Thursday led a
discussion on the development of a “Community Based Real-Time Forest Monitoring
(CRTM)” project to reduce forest sector illegalities.

The CRTM designed to enhance the role of local
communities in forest monitoring and resource management would use low-cost
technologies to improve the quality and availability of information on forest
infraction as well as the effectiveness of the law enforcement.

The forum was on the theme: “Ensuring law
enforcement, improving political will and minimising political interferences to
address illegal forest operations in Ghana” and was attended by various
stakeholders in the forestry sector.

Mr Enoch Gyamfi Ampadu, the Project
Coordinator of the CRTM at the FoE-Ghana said the project would develop
scalable models for implementing community-based real time forest monitoring
“joint control” systems in two districts.

“It will be implemented in the Nkawie and
Goaso Forest Districts of Ghana. Three reserves will be selected for the
implementation of the project and testing of the system in each of the two
districts,” Mr Ampadu said.

He noted that the project was expected to
reduce the irregularities in the targeted areas and improve fulfilment of
social obligations by timber operators to local communities.

Mr Ampadu indicated that the beneficiaries of
the project included; forest fringe communities, forestry commission and civil
society organisation in the forestry sector.

He said the project has the objective of
ensuring that authorities take community based monitoring reports on forestry
illegalities into account and apply relevant corrective measures to sanitise
the forestry sector.

In a speech delivered on his behalf, Dr Theo
Anderson, Executive Director of FoE said since its inauguration the FoE with
the help of other CSOs had played active roles in contributing to shape the
forest and wildlife policy in the country adding that they intended to continue
pursuing that agenda.

Justice Rebecca Sittie, a Justice of the High
Court, noted that although the country had numerous personnel that could deal
with defaulters of the law in the forestry sector, enforcement remained a
challenge.

Justice Sittie assured the forestry sector the
readiness of the judiciary to assist in battling illegality in the sector
saying, “the judiciary is very poised and ready to implement the forestry and
the environmental laws”.

She noted that it was for the lawyers and
prosecutors who had the obligation to follow the proper legal process to enable
the judiciary to play its role.  

Mr Chris Berko, the Director of the Timber
Validation Department of the Forestry Commission said the Commission had been
working out a wood procurement policy to regulate the cutting down of trees.

He said attacking illegality in the forestry
sector required a multi-faceted approach than using some level of control like
the operations of the rapid response team and therefore the need to inject new
policy directions. 

He indicated that the forestry commission was
looking up to an effective collaboration between the CSOs and the military to
manage the forest reserves together. 

Dr Tony Aubyn, the Chief Executive Officer
(CEO) of the Minerals Commission said when improper mining activities were
encouraged; it could affect the country’s development agenda.

He explained that his outfit did not allow for
small-scale mining in the forest reserve and that any small-scale mining
activity found in the forest reserves was to be regarded as illegal and
perpetrators should be dealt with accordingly. 

GNA

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