The Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources (MLNR) Advisory Board has paid a working visit to the Forestry Commission (FC).
The visit was to meet the Executive Management Team (EMT), of the Commission to review activities, assess achievements and discuss issues working against the fulfilment of the Commission’s objectives.
The Members of the Advisory Board is made up of :
i. Ehunabobrim Prah Agyensaim IV, Paramount Chief of Assin Owirenkyi Traditional Area – Chairman
ii. Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee – Member
iii. Prof. Rita Akosua Dickson – Member
iv. Hon. Sheila Bartels – Member
v. Hon. Akwasi Konadu – Member
vi. Mr. Kwaku Sakyi Addo – Member
The Chief Executive of FC, Mr. John Allotey, welcomed members to the Headoffice of FC and added that, some of the members are not new to FC, as they have been involved in some activities of the Commission, especially the Green Ghana Day (GGD).
The Director of Corporate Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, Mr. Cudjoe Awudi, gave a presentation on the Commission, touching on the formation, Divisions, activities as well as challenges in the operations of FC.
The Chief Executive further informed the Board that the Chairman of the Forestry Commission Board is Tetrete Okuamoah Sekyim II , who is also the Paramount Chief of Wassa Amenfi Traditional Area. He is supported by 10 members, including a woman.
He also added that, the Green Ghana Day Project has been well accepted by Ghanaians, however, FC owes suppliers who provided seedlings to FC for 2021, 2022 and 2023 editions of the Project.
He added that Rev. Dr. Joyce Aryee, a member of the Finance Committee of the GGD project is aware of that issue.
He continued that the GGD is a good program which has achieved positive results but funds are not forth coming to cater for costs incurred in its implementation.
He then touched on the challenges that the Commission is facing in the execution of its duties. Some are illegal logging; which he said FC has added technology as part of the efforts at fighting it. He also mentioned illegal mining, popularly known as “galamsey”, which is now taking a lot of time and money from the Commission in its attempt to fight it.
The Chief Executive said ‘galamsey’ has become a big issue because communities in gold – rich areas have joined in the illegal mining business because they have realised that their water bodies and farm lands have been polluted by these illegal miners, therefore they have to join the bandwagon to also get their share of the booty.
He therefore ,suggested that alternative livelihood programmes should be introduced in these communities to enable them get other sources of income to take their minds off the natural resources.
He called for support for institutions like the Ghana Geological Survey Authority(GGSA), to enable them perform their duties very well and added that a collaborative effort among other state actors will help in minimising forest illegalities.
Mr. Allotey also recounted to the Board some dangers staff face in their lines of work. He informed the meeting that a staff of the Rapid Response Unit had been shot in the head and back and was on admission at the University of Ghana Medical Centre, Accra. Another staff was also captured in the Asukese Forest Reserve in the Bono Region but was dumped at a refuse site at Nkawkaw in the Eastern Region.
He continued that FC staff stationed at Dormaa had come under so many attacks that he had given orders for them to be evacuated from the forest reserve which they were protecting because their lives were at risk. He said looking at the nature of the attacks on FC staff, it had become a national security issue, which cannot be handled by FC alone.
He cited that, most illegal miners are armed to the teeth with sophisticated weapons like the AK 47, which can be fired to hit a target 300metres away, whilst staff of FC carry the semi- automatic guns which can travel just 30 metres.
He mentioned some of the achievements of the Commission as the effective roll out of the Ghana Wood Tracking System (GWTS), the Ghana Cocoa Forest Landscape Restoration Programe which had yielded USD 4.9m, which had since been distributed to beneficiary communities; construction of two more zoos in Takoradi and Koforidua , a facelift of the Accra Zoo, and effective publicity on FC which has been going on very well.
Mr. Allotey concluded his presentation by calling for more private sector involvement in the operations of FC.
Ehunabobrim Prah Agyensaim IV applauded the Chief Executive and the Director CPME, for giving the Board a good insight into the operations of FC and members of the Board sought clarifications on some issues and made suggestions for improvement in the work of FC.
The Chairman implored the CE to table all the challenges of FC for a thorough discussion and assured the CE that all the challenges he enumerated have been well noted and will be worked on.