Ghana’s current forest cover stands at 1.6 million hectares, having reduced from 8 million hectares at the beginning of the 1990s, a situation which spells doom for agriculture, including cocoa production.
The deforestation rate is 65,000 hectares per year, Mr. James Mckweon, Project Co-ordinator of the EU Chainsaw Project with Tropenbos International Ghana, has disclosed at the media briefing in Kumasi.
He pointed to illegal chainsaw milling as the major cause of depletion of the forest resources, saying it accounts for about 1.7 million cubic metres.
Mr. Mckweon said chainsaw milling has impacted so much on Ghana’s forest, which is evidenced in the 84% of local lumber supply from the practice.
According to him, together with other illegal logging and legal harvests, the total timber harvests in Ghana amounts to 3.7 million cubic metres, representing almost double the current official annual allowable cut of 2 million cubic metres.
The Project Co-Ordinator said the chainsaw milling enterprise, which employs about 130,000 people, and provides support for 650,000, has an estimated volume of 487,000 cubic metres, and a market value of GH˘27 million, equivalent of US$200 million, and also accounting for about US$18 million loss of revenue to the state.
According to him, the EU project, which develops alternatives for illegal chainsaw milling through Multi Stakeholders Dialogue (MSD), aims at addressing illegal chainsaw milling, hence the signing of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to govern the trade in timber, under which legally produced timber is exported to the EU.
Mr. Samuel Kwabena Nketiah, Programmes Director of Tropenbos International Ghana, noted that Ghana was not deriving optimum benefits from its forest resources, adding that the present trend of exploitation was not sustainable.
The Project Director, who feared that the loss of our forests would have devastating effects on our agriculture, called for effective strategies and interventions that would make people derive maximum benefits from forest resources to help reduce poverty, especially, in the rural communities.
Source: The Chronicle
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