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General News of Friday, 5 April 2019

Source: ghananewsagency.org

Forestry Commission and VRA sign MoU to protect Volta Lake

The Forestry Commission and the Volta River Authority have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the planting of bamboo to protect the Volta Lake, which houses the Akosombo Dam for effective power generation.

Under a project titled: “Bamboo for the Protection of the Volta Lake”, the two institutions would collaborate to fight deforestation as a result of livelihood enhancement activities at the catchment areas of the Lake, including the gorge, which contains the Dam.

The development, has affected the Lake adversely, which sometimes manifest in the form of unsustainable generation of hydro-electricity culminating in intermittent power failures.

Specifically, the use of the bamboo species is to help serve to Protect the Volta Lake by serving as a means of demarcation of the 280ft (85 meters) above mean sea level, which falls under the VRA acquired lands.

It will also create a buffer zone to avoid encroachment of the VRA acquired lands, protect against erosion and prevent or reduce the rate of evaporation of the Volta Lake and promote the socio-economic importance of bamboo for sustainable development of the riparian communities.

Mr John Allotey, the Deputy Chief Executive Forestry Commission and Mr Ebenezer Tagoe, Deputy Chief Executive VRA signed the MoU and the collaborative framework on behalf of their organizations.

Commenting, Mr Allotey said in pursuit of the ruling Government’s agenda for promoting Sustainable Development through the development and utilisation of bamboo and rattan resources among others, a Bamboo and Rattan Unit (BRU) had been created within the Forestry Commission at the instance of the current Chief Executive and his Executive Management Team, to facilitate the implementation of all related policies across the country.

He said the move underscored the importance of bamboo and rattan resources, which constitute the two largest non-timber forest products with wide ranges 'of socio-economic and environmental benefits in the country.

Mr Allotey said stakeholders in the project, which include the riparian communities, landowners and District Assemblies, will join hands with FC and VRA to reforest the lands within the VRA acquired 280 feet contour (flood-prone zones) with water-tolerant plant, bamboo, and extend it to other parts of the Lake in other geographical jurisdictions in the subsequent years.

He said the three-phased project, which starts in 2019, and expected to end in 2032, would help by the time of completion increased knowledge among 71 riparian communities and the public on the ecological and socio-economic benefits of the use of bamboo to protect water bodies.

There would also be established a 270-hectare bamboo plantation along the banks of the Lake to sustain hydropower generation while the skills of the 71 riparian communities enhanced in processing and utilisation of bamboo as well as 420 community members trained in bamboo nursery establishment and management.

On his part, Mr Ebenezer Tagoe said the signing of this MoU and Collaborative Framework Agreement was a significant step forward in the relationship between the two agencies in achieving the national objective in the environmental protection of natural resources in Ghana.

He said recent collaborations with Forestry Commission had raised the need to strengthen the collaborative initiative not only in forest reserves but in off forest areas as well as the Volta Lake Basin in Ghana.

In this regard, the Forestry Commission in 2018 undertook an assessment and provided a report indicating the frequency, environmental relevance (conservational value) and level of extinction of the flora and fauna within VRA’s solar power project sites at Lawra, Kaleo and Bongo in Northern Ghana.

Mr Tagoe expressed the hope that the collaboration would open doors for other agencies to provide the relevant financial and material support to the VRA and the Forestry Commission in the protection of the Volta Lake, which serves as source of water for power generation for three major hydropower stations at Akosombo, Akuse and Bui with a total installed capacity of 1,580MW.

In a related development, the Forestry Commission has also signed an MoU with the Owirenkyiriman Traditional Council and Praxis Africa in the field of sustainable development and forest restoration.

The Mou is also to address issues of forest cover and the management of the rural communities.