Business News of Friday, 24 February 2017

Source: B&FT

Stop issuing felling permits - Minister directs forestry commission

Mr John-Peter Amewu, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, says there is a ban on export of Rosewood across the country as part of efforts to bring sanity in the forestry sector.

According to him, the ban also gives a directive to the Forestry Commission to stop the issuance of felling permits as ways to ensure the reverse of the decline of the forest and wildlife resources while addressing vigorously the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.

“We will embark on tree nurseries establishment, forest plantation development, development of the bamboo and rattan industry, conservation of biodiversity, protection of water bodies and promotion of eco-tourism,” he said.

Mr Amewu said this when he toured the agencies under his ministry on Wednesday and assured them of the ministry's commitment to solving their challenges.

The tour was to enable him to familiarise with the agencies, access their working conditions and share with them the vision of the Government in the next four years.

The Minister who visited the Forestry Commission and the Ghana Geological Survey Authority where a staff durbar was held to formally introduce him to the staff and management of these institutions.

Addressing the staff of the Forestry Commission, Mr Amewu said the high levels of illegal logging chainsaw, mining activities, poor farming practices, annual wildfires, population pressure, the complex nature of Ghana’s land tenure system and weak law enforcement had further worsened the situation.

He said the effects of deforestation and forest degradation were beginning to manifest in the extinction of water bodies, loss of important timber species like odum and wawa, loss of wildlife habitat, rise in temperatures and unpredictable rainfall patterns due to climate change.

“The forestry sub-sector is one of the key sectors that has a huge potential for driving the economic development of this country, forests are among the world’s most productive land-based ecosystems and are essential to life on earth.

“I expect hard-work from every staff of the Commission, punctuality, discipline, corruption-free environment and dedication to service to drive the sector forward,’’ he said.

He, therefore, reassured them of his commitment to facilitating the competition of processes for the effective implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement, the passage of the Wildlife Bill, the approval of Timber Procurement Policy and ensuring the availability of funds to undertake the planned activities.

Mr Ben Nathan Donkor, the Acting Director of the Forestry Commission, said the Commission remained committed to realising the President’s vision for the Forestry sector which is in line with its vision, leaving future generations and their communities with richer, better and more valuable forestry and wildlife endowments.

The Chief Director of the Ministry, Professor Bruce Kofi Baneong-Yakubo, and Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands and Forestry, accompanied the Minister.