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General News of Thursday, 2 March 2006

Source: GNA

Forest plantations on serious decline

Fumesua (Ash), March 2, GNA - Forest plantations established from 1990 under the Forest Services Division (FSD) of the Forestry Commission (FC) have depleted from 75,000 hectares to 21,000 hectares of useful and productive plantation.

Dr. Joseph Cobbinah, Director of the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), who stated this, said 12,000 hectares out of the productive plantations represented private, individual and community holdings.

He attributed the harm and depletion of the forest plantation to the over extraction of trees to undertake social and economic activities.

Dr Cobbinah was speaking to the Ghana News Agency at Fumesua near Kumasi on Wednesday on forest plantation development in Ghana. "The rest of the plantations remain public-owned", he added. The FORIG Director was not happy that although the estimated rate for trees to be extracted from the country's natural forests every year is pegged at 220 kilometres square, the rate of replanting and caring for trees is only eight kilometers square at present.

Dr Cobbinah noted that in 1999 alone about 2,000-timber trees equal to 3.7 million cubic metres were removed from the forests. He described the trend as dangerous and unacceptable since it was greater than the Annual Allowance Cut (AAC) of one million cubic metres, the volume of timber that our forest can provide on sustained basis.

The Director was of the strong conviction that if something more positive and concrete was not done to halt the trend of depletion of the forest, even the cane and chewing sticks trade would also be in danger. Dr Cobbinah therefore, suggested that re-afforestation programmes should not be left to government agencies like the FSD and the FORIG alone, but that individuals and communities should also get actively involved in their establishment and management.

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