Tropenbos Ghana, in partnership with Rocha Ghana and Friends of the Earth (FoE) Ghana, has held a one-day workshop to raise awareness about the implementation of the Green Livelihoods Alliance (GLA) programme, aimed at ensuring conservation of the remaining forests resources of the country.
Since the GLA seeks to achieve this through the promotion of sustainable practices within forest areas, Tropenbos brought to gather journalists to highlights progress made so far, and to discuss how to realise the goals of the programme.
To ensure the survival of the remaining forest belts, water bodies and water courses they needed to be protected to prevent further encroachment and destruction.
Meanwhile, several illegal activities such as mining, farming and logging trees along water banks have expose water bodies and ruined their quality, the Chief Legal Officer of Water Resources Commission, Bernedette Araba Adjei, has warned against such activities.
Facilitating the workshop recently in Accra, she established that buffer zones along waters are marked for reasons, so it was not right for any person to embark on activity on the banks without approval from the Water Resources Commission.
“Lands for long water bodies are not meant for illegal activities. All intended projects to be sited beside water bodies need approval from the Assembly, Water Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to ensure that the water is protected from pollution,” she urged.
The dangers were that spills from these project sites like fuel filling stations or mechanical workshops that are close to water bodies may destroy the water.
The Chief Legal Advisor hinted that some arrests had been made with respect to individuals engaging in illegal activities along or on water bodies, and that prosecutions are ongoing.
On Ghana’s commercial trees regime, the Director of Tropenbos Ghana, Mrs Mercy Owusu Ansah, argued that the current state of tree tenure in the country was not the best, as it does not encourage farmers to preserve certain species of trees on their farms.
According to her, farmers who nurture trees, whether cultivated or grew naturally on their farms, are rather not given much priority when it comes sharing of the timber resource.
She noted that the farmer is not mentioned in the resource distribution channel, which consisted of the Forestry Commission, Stool, Assembly, Chiefs and Traditional Council, therefore, the farmers and families are not motivated to protect these trees.
It must be established that all lands in Ghana are owned by stools not by families, so in event that these sections are exempted from the deal, the protection of trees on their land cannot be assured.
Some farmers are attempted to kill the tree while it young, or use it for firewood, or burn it into charcoal, because of the fear of not benefitting when it grows, Mrs Ansah added.
To her and other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), farmers and land owners must have a higher share of the resource distribution, adding, “We must support farmers to have their share adequately.”
CSOs are on a tedious move to take stock [to keep database] of the number trees, including their species, on farms.
Friends of the Earth also added its bit on how game had become the order of the day, making wildlife animals an endangered species in the country.