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Regional News Mon, 30 Jan 2006

Forestry stakeholders hold workshop

Sunyani Jan. 30, GNA - Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister on Monday said Ghana's current rate of deforestation is now estimated at three percent per year.

Speaking at the opening of a six-day national training workshop for 25 participants in Sunyani, the Regional Minister said statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organisation indicated that Ghana's total forest cover declined from 7.5 million hectares to 6.3 million hectares between 1990 and 2000.

This shows a loss of 120,000 hectares annually or a rate of deforestation of 1.7 percent per year at the time, he said. The workshop was on the "Promotion of the implementation of the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) guidelines for the restoration, management and rehabilitation of degraded and secondary tropical forests" and was organised jointly by ITTO, World Conservation Union, Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG).

The Regional Minister said "going by the current data over a 15 year period, the government of Ghana, in recognition of the extent of the problem of forest degradation, has initiated various strategies aimed at arresting and reversing the high rate of deforestation in the country". Nana Seinti added that this was readily evidenced in the establishment of a national forest plantations development centre, the forest service division's plantation programme, the Ghana Armed Forces afforestation/plantation programme and the Presidential Special Initiative on Forest Plantations, together with the various natural forest management strategies currently being implemented by the Forest Services Division.

Nana Seinti said the Brong-Ahafo had initiated and was implementing some initiated programmes, including the Tano Basin Afforestation Project and the Participatory Forest Management Project with the assistance of JICA.

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He said the training workshop was very timely and of prime importance to the national economy as it was in direct consonance with the government's policies on sustainable forest management, afforestation, employment generation, sustainable livelihood generation and poverty reduction.

The Regional Minister expressed the hope that the vibrant partnership between Ghana and the international institutions would be sustained to enhance the achievement of the programme. He urged the participants to make the best of the opportunity, because the future of the nation's forests, under the current threats hinged on the skills and knowledge of all stakeholders.

Mr. Sandeep Sengupta, Representative of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and ITTO said the former organization founded in 1948 was the world's largest environmental and conservation network. He said the IUCN "brings together 82 States, 111 government agencies, more than 800 NGOs and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries throughout the world.

Mr. Sengupta said ICUN's mission was to influence, encourage and assist societies in the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of

nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources was equitable and ecologically sustainable, adding in Ghana, IUCN currently has five members.

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They are FORIG, Forestry Commission of Ghana, Environmental Protection Association of Ghana, Green Earth Organisation and Institute of Cultural Affairs.

In a welcoming address Dr. Dominic Blay, Senior Research Scientist of FORIG said even though a number of projects had been implemented by different stakeholders and were aimed at restoring degraded forests to productivity, most of the projects had used the traditional restoration techniques with the main attribute to increase forest cover rather than the holistic Forest Landscape Restoration.

Dr. Blay said the workshop was the first of nine national workshops to be organised throughout the world on the same topic, stressing it was intended to make participants to understand issues related to forest landscape restoration, how to use the best approach to restore as well as to provide feedback on the guidelines and manuals.

"The workshop is also intended to suggest if there is the need to have guidelines applicable to the Ghanaian situation", he added. Participants will discuss a report on the ITTO project on rehabilitation of degraded forests, a case study of Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) in Ghana and country experiences on FLR, among others. Jan. 30 06

Source: GNA