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A group of research scientists at the Forest Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) have appealed for the inclusion of indigenous tree species in the national reforestation programme.

The nation should consider planting at least 30 per cent of the total forest area earmarked for reforestation using the mixed indigenous tree species approach.

This, they said, would not only help to restore species, which are getting depleted but also replace planted exotic trees that are becoming prone to tropical diseases and pests.

Dr. Paul Bosu, leader of the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), sponsored "mixed indigenous species plantations project", made the call at a workshop to disseminate information on the outcome of the project at Fumesua, near Kumasi on Thursday.

The five-year research project looked at how to develop "alternative mixed plantation systems and restoration strategies for conservation and sustainable production of native timber species in Ghana."

The objective was to develop and promote sustainable planting of mixed indigenous plant species like Odum, Oframo, Mahogany and Afromosia.

These have high economic value and essential to the sustenance of rural communities that have traditionally depended on the forest.

The research was conducted in Abofour, Bia Tano, Fomanso, Bobiri forest area and Mesewam, to develop a novel system to restore genetic diversity for sustainable production of native tropical timber species and shrubs to provide wood, non-timber forest products and other ecological benefits not provided by exotic plantations.

Dr. Bosu said concentration on the planting of exotic trees such as teak, only provided wood for industrial purposes as they fail to take care of myriad of other non timber products that come from natural forest.

He pointed out that most of the exotic tree plantations were beginning to be infected by diseases and pests and therefore it is important to encourage and promote the planting of indigenous species, which have high economic and ecological value.

The economic benefits to both farmers and the nation would be tremendous apart from protecting the natural forest ecology.

Dr. J.R Cobbinah, former Director of FORIG, said the country loses about 1.7 per cent of its forest annually and there is the need to find sustainable way of regaining the lost forest.
Source: GNA

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