Samuel Afari Dartey (right) seated alongside other dignitories at the forum
The Forestry Commission has stated that the contribution of the forestry sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has witnessed a sharp decline over the last six years.
According to the commission, the forestry sector’s contribution to GDP declined from six percent to about two percent in the period under review.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Forestry Commission, Samuel Afari Dartey, who made this known at a national colloquium on forests investment opportunities and climate change on Wednesday in Accra, attributed the abysmal performance of the sector to inadequate investment in the forestry sector.
He also attributed the development to challenges faced by the sector in the export of products, among others.
The colloquium, held at the Accra Conference Centre, formed part of activities marking the 4th Forestry Week and Greening Ghana Day Celebration.
Highlighting the forestry sector’s contribution to national development, Mr. Afari Dartey, stated that it has become extremely difficult for government to finance development projects in the sector, making the industry to rely largely on the private sector for survival.
He stated that the situation had affected Ghana’s ability to develop its eco-tourism sector, adding that the country has lost huge revenue from international tourism to countries like Kenya, Rwanda and Zambia.
He said that ecosystem services rendered to the State by the Forestry Commission are not being paid for by the government, saying ‘we need to develop our ecosystem as a nation.’
The commission has developed about 100,000 hectares of plantation but the maintenance of the plantation has been a challenge because of limited resources, according to him.
About 70 percent of Ghana’s population are said to be made up of rural dwellers who depend on the forest for their energy needs and livelihood.
A decline in the performance of the sector presupposes a fall in the livelihoods of rural dwellers.
Director-General of the Centre for Industrial and Scientific Research (CSIR), Dr. Victor K. Agyemang, who was the moderator at the programme, warned that if concrete steps were not taken to address the poor performance of the sector, the nation could face food shortage.
This, he said, would automatically lead to increases in the prices of food and further worsen the plight of Ghanaians in the near future.
Director of the Institute For Environment and Sanitation Studies of the University of Ghana (UG), Prof. Chris Gordon, who highlighted the impact of climate change on national development, urged government to take urgent steps to halt climate change in the country.
According to him, Ghana was experiencing climate change because government is not financing forestry commission and other forest protection agencies to work adequately.
‘We need to think about the welfare of future generations who are likely to become climate change refugees in their own country,’ he said.
Prof. Chris Gordon also called on government to put measures in place to tackle sand winning along beaches across the country.
BY Melvin Tarlue
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