By Cecil Mensah
One hundred and sixty seven stakeholders at National Forest Forum organized by Civic Response (CR), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Accra, have called for a total ban on the exportation of rosewood to protect the ecological sensitive zones of the country.
According to the group, the high rate of logging rosewood and other species in the ecologically fragile transitional zones, is a major concern for the sustainability and ecological diversity of forests, political and social stability in these local communities.
The group, also asserted that the current approach by the Forestry Commission and the District Assemblies, which seek to salvage some gains from this destruction are
The group, welcomed the Presidential ban placed on rosewood export, which may prevent further exploitation of resources and reduse the widespread abuse.
The group, further recommended that the ban should be sustained until comprehensive measures which tackle more fundamental issues relating to the permit abuse; sustainability and natural regeneration of the species and direct and tangible community benefits sharing among other challenges are put in place.
The stakeholders included, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs); forest sector agencies, traditional authorities, media, representatives of forty three local communities, nine administrative heads from nine regions, participated in the forum funded by the European Union (EU), through the Ghana Governance Initiative for Rights and Accountability in forest Management (GIRAFII) and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA).
A communiqué, issued by the forum after a one -week stakeholders meeting and signed by Obed Owusu Addai programme Officer of (CR), commended the efforts of government towards improving forest governance through a number of programmes, including preparatory work for the development of a master plan for the implementation of the forest and wildlife policy (2012).
The communiqué, took note of the fact that the Forestry Commission (FC)cannot protect forest resources in Ghana without the effective contribution of forest fringe communities and other stakeholders.
It is also takes note of the failure of some existing incentive arrangement expected to mobilize communities to protect forests.
The group recommended the need for the commission, District Assemblies and NGOs to intensify their public awareness for traditional authorities in the rosewood endemic areas to monitor the exploitation of the wood to protect biodiversity.
The group urged the Ministry of Lands and Natural resources and the commission to collaborate with the Energy Commission develop a policy to regulate the production of charcoal and wood fuels in the country.
They further urged the review of District Assemblies bye- laws on charcoal production to reflect environmental objectives beside the resource mobilization objectives.