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Bush Meat Generates $300m For Ghana Annually   
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The local consumption and export of bush meat generates a total of $300 million dollars into the Ghanaian economy every year, an official of the Forestry Commission told the GNA in Accra.

Mr. Samuel Afari Dartey, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, said the forestry sector was the fourth biggest foreign exchange earner for the country and part of the reasons was the high earnings from bush meat. "Timber export alone generated 250 million euros last year and the forest reserves also attract huge numbers of tourists every year," he said.

Forestry sector is fourth to cocoa, gold and tourism on the foreign exchange earners chart. At the opening of a national stakeholders' workshop on the implementation of the non-legally binding instruments (NLBI) on all types of forests in Ghana, Mr. Dartey said but for deforestation and forest degradation, earnings would have been higher.

The workshop, jointly organized by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Forestry Commission, with sponsorship from the German Development Organization (GTZ), was intended to develop an action plan for the implementation of the NLBI in Ghana.

Mr. Dartey said a study in 2004 showed that Ghana lost at least $300 million every year to degradation and deforestation.

"Farming alone is responsible for 15 million cubic meters of forest land loss and mining (legal and illegal) as well as other illegal activities account for five million cubic meters of land loss every year," he said.

He said farmers did try and error in the search for the right soil for the cultivation of particular crops and in the process they destroyed vast forest areas.

Mr. Dartey said there was the need for a Land Use Policy (LUP) in Ghana to guide particularly farmers on what type of soil was useful for the cultivation of what type of crop, in order to prevent the destruction of a great mass of land in the bid to locate appropriate soil.

"The LUP will be research based to ensure that farmers are directed in their choice of land for cultivation of particular crops," he said.

Mr. Henry Kamel-Ford, Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, said Ghana was the first country to have adopted a systematic approach to the implementation of the 24-point NLBI, and that government was committed to the action plan to be developed from the workshop.

Ghana has so far scored high marks on the implementation of six out of the 24-point NLBI in sustainable forest management and suggestions from three regional stakeholder meetings and had evolved actions how to make good the remaining 16.

The proposals for discussion include increased private sector involvement, cross-sectoral coordination, enforcement of forestry laws, training and public education, use of science and technology and effective financial strategies.

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