Ghana’s Forest and wildlife resources still under threat – Minister

By Lydia Asamoah,
GNA

Accra, Sept. 14,
GNA – The Forest and wildlife resources of the country are under intense
encroachment and destruction with illegal settlements, farming, poaching,
mining and chainsaw operations, Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural
Resources, has said.

He said these
activities are key threats to the reserves and protected areas.

Addressing the
media at the meet-the-press series in Accra, Mr Mills said a Rapid Response
Unit within the Forestry Commission has therefore been established to augment
operations of the Military and Police Taskforces to address such unsustainable
practices.

He said over the
past one year, the Rapid Response Team destroyed 104 illegal farms and galamsey
huts in the forest reserves while another 155 chanfan machines used for mining
were destroyed and 14 gold detector machines used for illegal mining within the
reserves were also seized.

He called on
stakeholders to help protect the forest reserves as national heritage for
posterity.

Commenting of
biodiversity management and ecotourism development in the country, Mr Mills
said apart from improving existing ecotourism facilities in the country, a new
agreement had been signed with a private investor for the establishment of a
new eco-park called Accra Eco-park, which would be constructed under a 1.2
billion dollar facility.

He explained that
the park project involves the construction of a theme park, amusement parks,
orchards, arboretum, wildlife safari, museum, eco-commercial enclave,
eco-lodges and spiritual enclave.

He said the
Eco-Park project targets about two per cent of all visitors to the West Africa
sub-region and is expected to attract more than 600,000 visitors annually.

Mr Mills also
announced that this year, ecotourism visitations to protected areas and
zoological gardens, had seen an early encouraging domestic and foreign visitors
to these sites and that by the end of the first quarter, 54,539 visitors were
recorded yielding a gate proceed of GH₵ 442, 824.96

He stated that
under the $ 40 million facility of the Climate Investment Fund, a project has
been rolled up to help reduce forest loss and land degradation while
contributing to sustainable livelihoods through participatory planning,
improved practices and incentives in selected landscape corridors in Ghana’s high
forest zones.

On challenges
confronting the forestry sub-sector, the Minister mentioned inadequate funds to
undertake routine operational activities such as maintenance of existing
plantations, continuous dwindling of both natural and plantation timber, inadequate
and old vehicles for effective monitoring operations as well as inadequate
field equipment and other logistics.

GNA

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