Ghana to sign agreement to protect forest resources

Ghana to sign agreement to protect forest resourcesGovernment will in September initial an agreement with the European
Union (EU) to ensure that timber is produced in accordance with the
existing forestry laws and policies in order to minimize or eliminate
illegally produced timber to the EU market.

The
Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) would further enhance the
Forestry Commission’s work of striving to address the causes of
deforestation and degradation of the country’s forest resources.

Professor
Nii Ashie Kotey, Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission,
announced this at a two-day workshop on Aligning Forest Governance with
Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD).

The
workshop, which would address issues relating to forest and climate
change and create awareness among stakeholders on a range of issues
related to reducing emissions from deforestation and forest
degradation, is being attended by participants from Ghana and Liberia.

Prof.
Kotey noted that initialling of the VPA, which would be done prior to
parliamentary ratification, would ensure that Ghana’s forests would be
there for years to come as well as combat illegal logging.

Commenting
on the REDD programme, he said there was the need for stakeholders,
including the Environmental Protection Agency, to design a readiness
plan for the country which would guide the formulation of the national
strategy.

“Greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation in
developing countries today contribute approximately 20 per cent of the
world’s carbon dioxide emissions,” he said.

Prof Kotey said
as a result of illegal human activities, large scale deforestation and
forest degradation had been occurring for several decades in our forest
areas in spite of policy measures to combat the problem.

He
called for the need to build national capacity to monitor forest cover
changes and the associated changes in carbon stocks in order to make
REDD work effectively.

Prof. Kotey expressed the hope that
participants would come out with practical ways of addressing such
issues prior to implementing the REDD programme in 2012 when it becomes
operational under the climate convention.

Mr Chris Beeko,
National Coordinator of the VPA, explained that the agreement would
fully complement the REDD programme since both were concerned with
forests, people, reducing degradation and illegal logging.

He
said under the VPA all stakeholders had crucial roles to play to ensure
successful implementation of the programme and noted that clear
opportunities existed for REDD to build on the VPA governance platform
as well as link up with its policy initiatives.

Mr Robert
Bamfo, from the Forestry Commission, giving a review of Ghana
deforestation situation pointed out that harvesting wood for fuel
purposes, illegal chain-saw operation, encroachment of forests by
farmers and hunting were major causes of degradation and deforestation
in Ghana.

He said currently only 1.9 per cent of the country’s forest was in excellent condition.

Source: GNA