Experts call for responsible harnessing of natural resources


Experts brainstorming on the country’s natural resources, forest reserves and exploitation journey have concluded that it would be wise to put premium on harnessing forestry resources responsibly.

Doing that, they insisted, requires collective engagement, action-oriented policies, extensive public education to promote proper forestry resource development in the Ghanaian economy.

They made the call during the two-day ‘Natural Resources Stakeholders Dialogue’ organised by the Graphic Communications Group Limited in partnership with the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources in Accra.

It was under the theme “Harnessing our Natural Resources Responsibly for our Sustainable Collective Good”.  The acting Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, who is also Provost of College of Humanities, Professor Daniel Frimpong Ofori, served as the moderator for the session.

Commitment to harnessing the forestry resources sustainably, the panelists stressed, is a major ingredient in protecting the country’s natural resources, reversing the downward slide of environmental degradation in promoting economic freedom necessary to build the self-reliance of the Ghanaian economy.

Forestry protection

Making a submission, a panelist, Mr. Gustav Adu, who is also a member of the Forestry Commission Board, said the Forestry Commission would continue to roll out measures to make sure that the country’s forest reserves were condoned off from attacks and unwanted destruction from, particularly, illegal mining.

He revealed that already the Forest Commission, had been undertaking regular patrolling of the forest reserves, protecting and maintaining the internal and external boundaries, as well as creating awareness and stakeholder sensitisation.

Additionally, to serve as deterrent, he said the Forestry Commission has been decommissioning and demobilising equipment used for illegal mining activities in the forest reserves.

Taking his turn in the deliberation, the Executive Director of the Forestry Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission, Hugh Brown, reaffirmed its determination to forcefully implement the ban on mining in the country’s forest reserves as directed, to protect the environment.

He also cautioned persons who under the cover of darkness continue to flaunt the directive that they would be made to pay the price when apprehended.

Mr Hugh Brown, said despite the ban, some daring people continued to carry out their illegal activities and the commission was ready to fight this forcefully.

“The battle to protect the forest reserves goes on unabated. We will deploy different strategies to win all the wars in this battle,” Mr Brown said.

Forest depletion

Another panelist, the Director of Tropenbos International Ghana, an organisation working to increase forest cover and promote climate-resilient practices, Daniel Kofi Abu, also suggested the formation of more governance structures to help curb the challenges of forest depletion and climate change in Ghana.

According to him, Ghana is fast becoming vulnerable to climate impacts, making it critical to adopt smart measures to avert future disasters.

Mr. Abu indicated that the transition landscape in Ghana faces exponential damage posing serious risks to its ecosystem. He called for immediate measures to address the issue.

“We believe that the way forward is to develop smart landscape governance, and that is why we are forming a landscape board to execute some of these development initiatives,” he disclosed.

Mr. Daniel Abu also said, “key among the objectives of the LEAN project is promoting climate-smart landscape by using governance structures.”

Forest sustainability

Another panelist, the Director of the Forest Institute of Research of Ghana (FORIG), Prof. Daniel Aninagyei Ofori, stressed on the sustainable management of forest and how the society will benefit.

He mentioned biodiversity, forest and Climate change programmes to effectively harness our forest reserves.

Prof. Aninagyei Ofori said they work towards revenue of the country and in conformity of the community endowed with that exact mineral to improve their livelihoods. He disclosed that they relate with the Forestry Commission very well in the discharge of their duties.

He added that his outfit collaborates with research, academic and vocational institutions in the country to gain the necessary guidance and knowledge to discharge their duties.

Another panelist, who is represented the CSO, said they represented the voice to the voiceless. According to him, CSOs share relevant information to communities. “They do this by embarking on capacity building programmes and advocacy,” he stated.

He also appealed to government to ensure the rational allocation of resources to make production systems in the sector work efficiently and sustainably.

At the end of the dialogue, the experts and policy makers present agreed to help retain the forestry value chain, ensure stricter enforcement of laws to tackle illegal activities in the forest sectors, as well as eliminate barriers to effective forestry administration in the country.

Participants asked various compelling and thought-provoking questions pertaining to topic and were also satisfied on the comprehensive responses that were given

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