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Regional News Thu, 24 May 2012

Achimota Forest Reserve to be developed into an ecological theme park

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) on Thursday said the Achimota Forest Reserve would be developed into an ecological theme park to secure the forest from further encroachment.

This would generate revenue and create jobs through eco-tourism development; Professor Bruce Kofi Banoeng-Yakubo, Chief Director at MLNR, said in a document made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.

He said the Ministry sought to expand the national forest plantation development programme and improve the benefits sharing schemes by introducing early financial flows to communities and individuals involved in the plantation, to achieve its full stated targets.

“The Ministry would embark on vigorous educational campaign on alternative livelihood programmes for illegal chain sawing operators and intensify sensitisation programmes on wildfire prevention, suppression and control including implementation of the national wildfire policy,” Prof Banoeng-Yakubo stated.

He said the Ministry had instituted measures and policies to ensure sustainable management and utilisation of the nation’s lands, forest and resources.

“The Ministry will maximise national revenue and benefits to rural communities from mineral resource extraction, ensure good environmental stewardship and promote a smooth and efficient land delivery system through partnership with traditional authorities,” he said.

He said as part of the Ministry’s commitment to reform the lands sector, MLNR had commenced the implementation of the second phase of the Land Administration Project (LAP) which would immensely contribute to smooth and efficient land delivery system.

Prof Banoeng- Yakubo said in order to ensure that the sub-sector contributed fully to the goals and objectives, the Ministry would provide the platform for transparent engagement of stakeholders to promote harmony in the mining sub-sector.

He gave the assurance that the Ministry would facilitate the timely passage of the Mineral Development Fund Bill to help address concerns of communities, district assemblies and traditional authorities, adding that regulations would be passed to effectively implement Act 703.

“The Ministry will facilitate the timely passage of the Ghana Geological Survey Amendment Bill to transform the department into a semi-autonomous organisation,” he said.

The Chief Director revealed that, the Ministry would complete the process of procuring a multi-purpose drilling rig to enhance efforts of the Ghana Survey Department to fully discover the country’s mineral potentials; stressing that it would continue to enforce the ban on registration of foreign companies in small scale mining.

Prof Banoeng-Yakubo said government was undertaking a geological exploration of seven areas, adding up to 349 square kilometres in various parts of the country, to reduce the spate of illegal mining.

Meanwhile, the Ministry has released its 11th edition of Lands and Natural Resources (LANAR) News in Accra. The 51-page magazine focuses on the outlook of the Lands, Forestry and Mines Sectors for 2012, and a feature on the Forestry Commission and the second Ghana Land Administration Project.

Other issues covered include the forum on the Conservation of Wetlands, news on the Sector Minister inaugurating Diamond Processing Plant and the inauguration of a Rapid Response unit to combat forest abuse.**

Source: GNA