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General News of Sunday, 17 February 2008

Source: GNA

Ministry donates logistics to fire volunteers

Tweapease (E/R), Feb.17, GNA-The Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines on Saturday donated fire fighting logistics worth 1.56 billion old Ghana cedis to fire volunteers at Tweapease in the New Abirem constituency of the Eastern Region. The items made up of 200 shovels, 200 mattocks, 500 cutlasses, 200 field boats, 200 felling axe and 400 T-shirts were meant to be used in promoting the Ministry's Wildfire Awareness Creation campaign programme in Tweapease, Oduntuase, Akwetey and Sakapia communities. The items were acquired out of a provision of a total amount of 12 million Euros from both the government of Ghana and the Netherlands to support the programme which was initiated in 2002. Making the presentation, Mrs. Esther Obeng-Dapaah, Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines noted that before the nation achieved independence there was eight million hectares of forest trees but now there is only 1.5 million left. "Some use the trees for timber and others burn it and use it as charcoal so if care is not taken, the country's forests would become a desert. There is the need to conserve the forests for the future generation," she said. She said the conservation of the forest would lead to abundant rainfall for crops.

Mrs. Obeng- Dapaah who is also the Member of Parliament for the constituency urged the fire volunteers to protect the forest against illegal chainsaw operators. "Do your possible best to prevent illegal chainsaw operators from depleting the forest reserves and when you find them report them to the appropriate authorities," she added. Mrs. Obeng-Dapaah called for the establishment of a committee that would see to the distribution of the items in order to ensure a fair selection of beneficiaries.

Mr. Edward Obiaw, Project Manager of the Wildfire Awareness Creation campaign programme said government's plans to prevent wildfire in the forests include teaching volunteers on how to use tools in preventing Wildfire, planting of more trees, organizing patrol gangs to prevent fire outbreaks and training individuals and groups on wildfire. Mr. .John Bempah, Birim North District Forestry Manager noted that Ghana has lost an ever increasing percentage of her Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to the damages caused by wild fire.

"A number of forest reserves in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions which were formerly tall, dense tropical forest and rich in biodiversity have become grasslands with fire scattered; fire damaged .... canopies," he said.

Mr. Bempah advised members of the communities to support the volunteers in protecting the forests and cash crops against wildfire. Nii Lante Awuah II , Chief of Tweapease expressed his appreciation to the Ministry and appealed to the Minister to assist the community in completing its electrification project.

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