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Thursday, May 30, 2024

International Day of Forests: Urgent call for Ghana to repeal law hindering innovative forest management

The government of Ghana has been asked to urgently repeal the country’s Environmental Protection Regulation, LI 2462, which has been described as counter-productive to innovative solutions to managing forest reserves.

Boakye Twumasi Ankra
Project Manager of Tropenbos Ghana, Boakye Twumasi Ankra

The legislative instrument, in its current form and intent, means no forest reserve in Ghana is exempted from mining if deemed to be in the interest of the state as determined by the President.

“This implies that, even Ghana’s most sensitive forest areas protected by Acts of Parliament and international conventions that Ghana has signed onto, can no longer be deemed secured,” said a statement by Tropenbos Ghana in commemoration of International Day of Forests.

In the spirit of this year’s theme “Forests and innovation: New Solutions for a Better World”, there is a call on governments, forest resource managers, and other state and non-state actors to initiate, and ensure effective implementation of innovative actions in order to optimally realise forests’ potentials and associated benefits in a sustainable manner.

The environmental research organisation is also demanding the immediate reversal of the directive from the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources to the Forestry Commission to grant permits to timber harvesting companies to log in Globally Significant Biodiversity Areas (GSBAs).

“These forest reserves host endangered species and as such, must be protected,” the statement emphasised.

For most developing countries in the tropics, forests and associated resources are deemed the single most important resource base that propels sustainable development, and general wellbeing of the masses.

According to Project Manager of Tropenbos Ghana, Boakye Twumasi Ankra, this can be realised when the right policies, regulations and practices are initiated, instituted, and effectively enforced.

He expects the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to be transparent, and accountable to Ghanaians on degazetted portions of Achimota forest reserve.

“Since the degazetting, there has been limited public engagement on actions that are being taken to ensure the sustainable management of the forest. Amidst reported instance of illegal entry, it is our strong conviction that, the MLNR should make public the procedure for degazetting portions of the forest, allocations that are being or will be made, beneficiaries, management, and investment practices particularly in relation to surrounding ecosystem,” said the statement.

Wildlife Resources Management Bill

There is also a call for the President to as a matter of urgency give assent to the Wildlife Resources Management Bill, upon receipt, which among other things consolidates laws related to wildlife and protected areas.

Passed by Parliament on July 28, 2023, the bill is yet to have Presidential assent, delaying its enforcement.

“This holds the potential to cause no action on key regulatory propositions and interventions that are outlined in the bill. It is therefore important for parliament to expedite action on all processes that are needed to be undertaken prior to submission to the office of the president for his assent,” said Tropenbos.

There are also recommendations for the MLNR and the Forestry Commission to improve adoption of technology and internet-based solutions into forest management.

By Kofi Adu Domfeh 

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