A Tree Tenure Policy would soon roll-out to provide farmers the legal right to claim ownership of commercial trees planted on their farms and those that grow naturally, Mr Musah Abu-Juan, the Forestry Technical Director of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, has announced.
The policy is one of the initiatives being championed by the Ministry to mitigate the menace of deforestation in the country.
The other policies are Forest Investment Programme, REDD+ Strategy, Voluntary Partnership Agreement as well as the Natural Resources and Environmental Governance.
Mr Abu-Juan made this known at the maiden Cocoa and Forests Initiative Roundtable Conference, in Accra, on Thursday, which is being facilitated by the World Cocoa Foundation and IDH to solicit inputs into Framework of Action against forest degradation.
The policy is one of the measures being fashioned out by the Ministry and the Forestry Commission to encourage tree planting and reverse the rate of forest degradation.
Mr Abu-Juan blamed the deteriorating nature of the country’s forest reserves on the fact that farmers were not motivated to plant trees because hitherto trees were cut down and used by some governmental bodies without adequate compensation.
This, he explained, discouraged farmers from cultivating the habit of tree planting which undermined the efforts of the Ministry and the Forestry Commission to promote tree planting in the country.
Mr Abu-Juan said 60 per cent of the trees used for various activities in the country were from illegal sources which, he thought, made it prudent for the Tree Tenure Policy to be considered to help reverse the trend.
He said: “The plan will also ensure that, farmers take care of trees that grow naturally because they would also have a share upon harvest”.
The Forest Technical Officer explained that any tree which was not planted by anyone deliberately was also owned by government irrespective of where it is located therefore the public had no legal rights to cut it down.
The consultative forum which was hosted by the Ministry saw more than 15 cocoa companies, COCOBOD, the Forestry Commission and civil society organisations that deliberated on measures to end deforestation and forest degradation in the cocoa value chain.
The initiative was launched in London on March 16, by the IDH-The Sustainable Trade Initiative, World Cocoa Foundation, 12 cocoa companies and the Prince of Wales’ International Sustainability Unit.
So far, more than 30 cocoa companies worldwide had signed onto the initiative since its launch.