GHANA’S FOREST AND WILDLIFE RESOURCES STILL UNDER THREAT – MINISTER.
Accra, Sept. 14, GNA – The Forest and wildlife resources of the country are under intense encroachment and destruction with illegal settlements, farming, poaching, mining and chainsaw operations, Nii Osah Mills, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has said.
He said these activities are key threats to the reserves and protected areas.
Addressing the media at the meet-the-press series in Accra, Mr Mills said a Rapid Response Unit within the Forestry Commission has therefore been established to augment operations of the Military and Police Taskforces to address such unsustainable practices.
He said over the past one year, the Rapid Response Team destroyed 104 illegal farms and galamsey huts in the forest reserves while another 155 chanfan machines used for mining were destroyed and 14 gold detector machines used for illegal mining within the reserves were also seized.
He called on stakeholders to help protect the forest reserves as national heritage for posterity.
Commenting of biodiversity management and ecotourism development in the country, Mr Mills said apart from improving existing ecotourism facilities in the country, a new agreement had been signed with a private investor for the establishment of a new eco-park called Accra Eco-park, which would be constructed under a 1.2 billion dollar facility.
He explained that the park project involves the construction of a theme park, amusement parks, orchards, arboretum, wildlife safari, museum, eco-commercial enclave, eco-lodges and spiritual enclave.
He said the Eco-Park project targets about two per cent of all visitors to the West Africa sub-region and is expected to attract more than 600,000 visitors annually.
Mr Mills also announced that this year, ecotourism visitations to protected areas and zoological gardens, had seen an early encouraging domestic and foreign visitors to these sites and that by the end of the first quarter, 54,539 visitors were recorded yielding a gate proceed of GHâ‚µ 442, 824.96
He stated that under the $ 40 million facility of the Climate Investment Fund, a project has been rolled up to help reduce forest loss and land degradation while contributing to sustainable livelihoods through participatory planning, improved practices and incentives in selected landscape corridors in Ghana’s high forest zones.
On challenges confronting the forestry sub-sector, the Minister mentioned inadequate funds to undertake routine operational activities such as maintenance of existing plantations, continuous dwindling of both natural and plantation timber, inadequate and old vehicles for effective monitoring operations as well as inadequate field equipment and other logistics.
SOURCE: GHANA MEDIA WORLD.
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