Legislation to strengthen community management of natural resources soon

By
Godwill Arthur-Mensah/Irene Estelle Akrong, GNA

Accra, Oct.03, GNA – The Government Wednesday
said it would soon place the Wildlife Resource Management Bill before
Parliament for passage into law to back community participation, governance and
ownership of the natural resources, particularly, the wildlife and forest
resources.

The Law would also consolidate all the
fragmented policies on natural resource conservation and give a backing to the
Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) for the protection of Ghana’s
biodiversity and ecosystem.

Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, a Deputy Minister of
Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Forestry, announced this at the
National Policy Dialogue on Natural Resources, in Accra, on Wednesday.

“Empowering Communities to Manage Natural
Resources Sustainably: A Review of Community Resource Management Area (CREMA)
Implementation in Ghana” is the theme chosen for the dialogue.

The event brought together CREMA members,
natural resource experts, representatives of civil society organisations and
the development partners to deliberate and evaluate the concept of CREMA and
share ideas on best ways of managing the wildlife and forest resources to meet
the socio-economic needs of Ghanaians.

The Deputy Minister said the continued loss of
the forest resources was of great concern to the Government, especially at a
period the country and world at large, were battling the effects of climate
change and other illegal activities.

These include illegal mining, chainsaw
operation and encroachment on forest reserves.

Mr Owusu-Bio, therefore, called for collective
action towards reversing the negative trend and the empowerment of communities
to effectively manage their resources towards the sustainability of the natural
resources for the improvement of local livelihoods.

“We have now reached a critical stage where we
need to collaborate and empower communities to assist in the management of the
natural resources for future utilisation,” he emphasised.

He gave the assurance that the Government
would equip community-based natural resource governance systems towards the
conservation and sustainable utilisation of the natural resources.

To that end, he said, the Enhancing Natural
Forest and Agro-forest Landscape Project of the Ministry remained committed
towards the establishment and governance of CREMA in five selected blocs in the
Western Region.

Additionally, he said, the Ministry was
constructing Offices in each of the five CREMA blocs in the Region to enhance
their activities.

According to the Ghana Forest Investment
Programme, the nation loses two per cent of her forest annually, translating to
the loss of about seven hundred thousand hectares of forest cover and wildlife
habitat.

This is due to unsustainable use of the
natural resources, especially in protected areas.

It is upon that premise that the dialogue is
being held to court local communities’ support towards the governance and
conservation of the wildlife and forest ecosystems through CREMA
implementation.

Mr Louis Kuu Kpen, the United Nations Development
Programme (UNDP) Assistant Country Director, on his part, reiterated the need
for responsible, fair and equitable utilisation of the natural resources in
conformity with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12.

In that regard, he said, it was prudent to
recognise the key fundamental roles played by community-based natural resource
management bodies like CREMA towards the conservation of the biodiversity and
ecosystems.

“I hope that we can use this platform to have
another look at the CREMA concept in terms of how far it has come, what is
working and what is not, and how to address these gaps in the implementation of
the concept, moving forward,” Mr Kuu Kpen stated.

GNA

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