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3rd Forestry Week And Greening Ghana Day To Mark International Day Of Forests,CEO's Speech
Posted: 21 Mar 2014

SPEECH BY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF FORESTRY COMMISSION, SAMUEL AFARI DARTEY, FOR 3RD FORESTRY WEEK AND GREENING GHANA DAY TO MARK  INTERNATIONAL  DAY OF FORESTS, 2014 IN BEGORO,IN EASTERN REGION.

Nana Chairman
The Eastern Regional Minister,
Minister of Lands and Natural resources,
Minister of Environment, Science and Technology,
Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts
Development Partners,
Heads of various Institutions
The Cleggy
Invited Traditional Leaders,
Directors and Staff of the Forestry Commission,
Our Future leaders, Students and the Youth
The Media,
All protocol observed,


Let me hasten to say how happy I am to be among you here today to celebrate yet another landmark event on which our very survival hinges.
The UN General Assembly has proclaimed March 21 every year as the international day of forests to celebrate and create awareness on the importance of all types of forests. The Day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. Forestry Commission commemorate the International Day of Forests with Forestry Week Celebration to mark to  raise awareness about the This time, it is linked with the celebration of Greening Ghana, an initiative of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to increase our forest cover.

The UN enjoins countries on this day to undertake local and community programs including, but not limited to tree planting, among several other initiatives.
The celebration has theme: Celebrating Our Forests for Sustainable Development.   The eastern region town Begoro was chosen for significant reasons, prominent among them, its closeness to the Atiwa Forest which equally relates to the theme for the occasion: Celebrating Our Forests for Sustainable Development.  (Atiwa Forest is source of three important rivers that supply the inhabitants of Accra water ie water needs)
Distinguished guests, it is of utmost importance that forests are protected.

Forests have national character, and laws are in existence towards their protection for the common good at the national level.
Forests and trees sustain and protect us, providing clean air and water, safeguarding biodiversity and acting as a buffer against climate change. For many people, they also offer food, shelter and employment. It is up to us in turn to sustain and protect our forests.

But the responsibility to protect cascades to individual levels at every stage of human development where individual responsibility becomes a critical piece of the chain without which success remains a mirage
The Forestry Commission is at the forefront of innovating forest-based sector reforms, as a critical component and pre-requisite for a green economy.
Distinguished guests, The Commission as well has internalized and identifies with the Food and  Agriculture Organization’s 2012 Rome report which challenges  individuals and communities to develop street-level and practical solutions to protect forests and forest products for a sustainable future.

There is no telling why this challenge must be embraced by all because the accruing benefits are many.
 Nananom our pre-occupation is to create as much awareness as possible about the inherent dangers associated with the unbridled destruction of our forest cover and the seeming aloofness on the part of a section of society that, it is the sole responsibility of the Forestry Commission to protect forests. Indeed it`s everyone`s call, the Commission inclusive.
Hon Ministers, whiles this may be true, given our mandate, may I hasten to caution that a neglect to collectively protect our forests and wildlife resources will lead to a consequence with far reaching, and dire implication for generations yet to come. (Irrespective of your colour, age, profession or political affiliation)
A Green Ghana is a beautiful Ghana, and with it comes increased tourist receipts, increased hotel patronage and an improved economy due to an increase in domestic tourism, which holds a far better potential for accelerated socio-economic development. (I` m happy the Minister of Tourism is here with us)
We should resist reducing this event to annual cycle or a ritual. I would rather each annual gathering focused on concrete and evidential figures of what we had done practically in the last twelve months by way of tree planting and forest protection. This would be the new direction henceforth.

Nananom, it is about time we walked the talk. We at the Commission have shown the way with the introduction of the Forestry Commission Rapid Response Unit and the Prosecution Unit, which two have combined to bring some level of appreciable sanity to our forests. I.e. deepening Law Enforcement
May I again reiterate our resolve to arrest for prosecution, those who have swore to make illegal chain saw operation among other counter-productive acts, their way of life or living?
While commending the media for its watchdog role in covering and reporting our programmes, I want to challenge the inky fraternity to go a step further with Investigative Reports. Forestry issues have a national character and global appeal.

I am convinced investigative reports into syndicates operating under the cover of darkness, investigative reports into unpatriotic citizens colluding with foreigners to deplete forest covers through ‘’galamsey’’, investigative reports into the pollution of water bodies by some international concerns and its effects on the health and wealth of our people, will no doubt project your individual career and by extension, the media houses you represent into the international realm.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have time without number, reiterated that at the core of forest protection is the urgent need to shift attention from our over reliance on the natural forest to plantations development which have proved much more cost-effective and beneficial to the wanton and unbridled destruction of other resources in natural forests.

Ladies and gentlemen tree planting is the way forward. I am glad the Forestry Commission Staff and our friends from the Media demonstrated this leadership by planting about 300 different species in Achimota Forest Reserve in Accra on Tuesday to mark the Media launch of this 3rd week celebration. And I know many of us gathered here will also have the opportunity today to plant your tree and nurture. (I m told about 5ha have been demarcated for this exercise) At least we have added some amount of trees into the ecosystem. (Commendation)
The interventions at the community and personal levels should be multi-facetted, a fusion of traditional and modern methods of protection. Here the social media and technology come handy.
The social media is a potent tool which the youth could use to capture disturbing forestry footage and good tree plant campaign for dissemination in a bid to shock the conscience of society on acts of impunity while advocating change.

 I want to challenge our vibrant youth to make good use of the social media platform to achieve behavioral change.
Capture that footage of deforestation and `galamsey’, film that tree planting exercise by those school children and spread the message for change in behavior.
Forest protection is not a preserve of the aged. Indeed it is as much a civic duty of the aged as it is of the youth.  A degraded environment is a threat to all.
There is an imminent threat to livelihoods with the fast depletion of forest covers and resources unless we act as a collective body fighting and confronted by a common enemy, a non-discriminatory enemy whose negative consequences affect all.

Invited guests, the Forestry Commission is conscious of its responsibilities and is convinced that enforcement of rules combined with individual vigilance will among other measures, help protect our forests.
It is defeatist to throw our arms up in despair and allow a few social misfits and miscreants who in pursuit of their own inordinate ambition endanger the lives of millions of innocent and law-abiding citizens.
My responsibility, and your responsibility, and indeed our collective responsibility is to stand resolute and determined to resist those keen on plundering forests and forest resources for their selfish interests while the rest of us wallow  in misery and poverty.

Nana Chairman, our resolve is to partner with a ``coalition of the willing’’, to rid our forests and National parks of all undesirables
Ladies and gentlemen, the Forestry Commission is inviting civil society, NGOs, community-based organizations, individuals, our untiring media friends, the public and corporate entities to wage a relentless campaign against those whose sole motivation is to destroy forests and wildlife resources for selfish gains, depriving posterity of their right to survival and good life in the process.
We are firm in our conviction that a better story would be told at our next gathering, but in between time, we should all join the campaign to plant trees and we challenge everyone to be vigilant against illegal chain saw operation, galamsey, pollution of water bodies and charcoal burning.

May I seize the opportunity to greatly commend the both National Planning Committee and Local Organizing Committee Andy Okrah, Director HR and his Team,  Atta Owusu, Regional Manager and his Team for the good work they have done. Ayekoo.
Thank you for the attention and patience. MAY GOD BLESS US ALL.
 

 

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