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Stakeholders Meeting on Sustainable Forest Management (Asamankese in the West Akim district)

stakeholders meeting on sustainable forest managementForests are more than a symbolic ideal of wilderness, more than quiet places to enjoy nature. Forest ecosystems — trees, soil, undergrowth, all living things in a forest — are critical to maintaining life on earth. Forests help us breathe by creating oxygen and filtering pollutants from the air, and help stabilize the global climate by absorbing carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. They soak up rainfall like giant sponges, preventing floods and purifying water that we drink. They provide habitat for 90 percent of the plant and animal species that live on land, as well as homelands for many of the earth’s last remaining indigenous cultures. Forests are commercially important, too; they yield valuable resources like wood, rubber and medicinal plants, including plants used to create cancer drugs. Harvesting these resources provides employment for local communities.

Healthy forests are a critical part of the web of life. Yet more than half of the earth’s original forest cover has been destroyed due to human activities such as agriculture, development and logging.  In Ghana, the tropical rain forest area is now just 25 per cent of its original size and it is believed that if the extraction continues at the present rate, the forest will be gone in the next 45 years.

In an attempt by Greener Impact International to reverse this trend and also to raise awareness about sustainable forest management among forest communities, a consultative meeting was organised to bring stakeholders in the West Akim District together to discuss and find solution to the increasing rate of deforestation. This meeting which was held on the 21st October, 2011 at Asamankese brought together community leaders, assembly men, farmers and officials from both the ministry of Agriculture and the Forestry commission. The special guest to this meeting was Honourable Gifty Klenam; the member of parliament of the Lower West Akim constituency.

The farmers in this meeting raised serious concerns about the low compensations given to them for the destruction of their cocoa farms during the activities of the forest contractors in harvesting the timber. This they confessed has resulted in some of them conniving and encouraging the activities of chain saw operators whom they believe give them better compensations. Some also threatened that if the issue on compensations are not well addressed, they were going to cut down young seedlings they come across on their farmlands.

The Representatives of the forest commission at the meeting assured the farmers they were going to look into the concerns raised and advocated that the farmers should feel free to report the activities of forest contractors which they think are of boarder to them. In a message read on her behalf by, (Mr Ofori); The honourable member of parliament  advised farmers to use the right channel to address their grievances and that they should be mindful of the consequences of the actions they may take today. She however advocated that the forestry commission should take a serious look into the allegations raised and that appropriate sanctions should be meted out to forest contractors who be found as culprits. She also commended Greener Impact International for such a great initiative and encouraged the Organisation to carry out more of such advocacy meeting to increase the level of awareness about climate change and sustainable forest management in the district.

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