THE Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Collins Dauda, has cautioned that Ghana would have no prime forest left within the next 23 years, if nothing is done to reverse the trend of rapid deforestation.
He said available information indicated that the devastating effects of forest degradation, especially during the past two decades, was beginning to manifest in the extinction of the country’s premium timber species such as ‘Odum’, ‘Mahogany’ and ‘Sapele’, which had also led to the drastic reduction in the raw material base of the timber industry.
The minister was speaking at the 14th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Ghana Institute of Foresters (GIF) in Sunyani.
The AGM, which was on the theme; “Forest law enforcement in Ghana, impact on forest degradation and climate change,” also discussed how to improve law enforcement and forest governance to eliminate illegal chainsaw milling and illegal farming that had often created serious conflicts between forest communities and forest sector institutions.
Alhaji Dauda stated that recent scientific evidence had highlighted that deforestation accounted for approximately 20 per cent of annual carbon emissions, adding that forests were an essential repository of biological diversity and key to the livelihoods and rights of many people.
He said it was against this background that the government and, particularly the ministry, had commenced engagement with all stakeholders in seeking the reduction of emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.
Alhaji Dauda added that the other supporting efforts from the ministry to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation included combating illegal logging and promoting sustainable management of forests and enhancement.
Dr Kwame Asamoah Adam, President of GIF, bemoaned the increasing trends in illegal logging and forest encroachment, which were exacerbating forest degradation and the changing climatic conditions.
To help address some of these challenges, Dr Adam said the GIF had put in place a code of ethics that was zero tolerant for corruption, which also insisted on best practices in all professional activities.
He added that the GIF Council had initiated a process to get its code of ethics adapted by the Forestry Commission as an integral part of the commission’s code of discipline for foresters.
The Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr Eric Opoku, appealed to the public to desist from negative practices such as illegal logging, indiscriminate felling of tress and illegal mining in forest reserves, among other things.