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Forest fringe communities urged to support fight against illegal operators

Kalakpa Forest Reserve

Dr Kwakye Ameyaw, Technical Advisor to Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission (FC), has asked members in forest fringe communities to lead the fight against illegal activities in the country’s forest reserves.

He said community members, especially farmers, had a critical role to play in fighting illegal operators in forest reserves by reporting them to the Commission for their arrest and prosecution.

Answering questions during a stakeholders’ workshop on landscape restoration at Goaso, Dr Ameyaw pointed out that the government alone could not fight the menace, unless community members who lived with the perpetrators, took bold decisions to report them.

The workshop was to create a platform for all key stakeholders in the Asunafo North Municipality, Asunafo South and Asutifi North Districts in the Ahafo region, which have been designated as Hotspot Intervention Area (HIA), to dialogue on the development of the Asunafo-Asutifi Landscape Programme.

The objective was to enable stakeholders to work together to address deforestation, low yield and encroachment on forest reserves and promote climate-smart activities in the area.

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The workshop was organized by KABSTREK Consult and Proforest in collaboration with the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the FC, COCOBOD, Lands Commission, Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Forestry Research Institute, district assemblies and traditional authorities in the area.

Dr Ameyaw said FC was working closely with all key stakeholders to address challenges in the sector to sustain the country’s forest.

Mr Charles Sarpong Duah, Manager of the Climate Change Unit of FC, appealed to traditional leaders and the media to take an active part in the campaign and educate the public on the negative impact of deforestation and the need to plant trees in their localities.

Dr Shalom D. Addo-Danso, Lead Consultant of KABSTREK Consult, who led the presentation, said the expansion of agricultural activities, especially for cocoa production, was identified as one of the most important drivers of deforestation.

He said the REDD+ programme which was introduced by FC was to improve land use in cocoa-growing areas and increase yield in the Asunafo-Asutifi enclave which was one of the leading cocoa growing areas in Ghana.

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Dr Addo-Danso, mentioned ageing farmer population, ageing cocoa farms, land tenure issues, low involvement of the youth in cocoa production, excessive hunting and climate change, as some of the challenges facing cocoa production in the area.

He advocated for improved law enforcement by the Forestry Commission to reduce the impact of illegal activities on the forest to sustain key ecological, cultural and historical habitats.

Dr Addo-Danso stressed the need for a massive reforestation programme to rehabilitate the Abonkere Shelterbelt and other forest reserves.

He also called for the training of farmer groups, traditional leaders and local government leaders to adopt beneficial and climate-smart cocoa farming practices to sustain production.

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