Ex-President Kufuor Warns Against Forest Destruction

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has warned that the continuous decline in forest cover is largely going to affect food and agriculture production.

In addition, he said that is going to jeopardise Ghana’s longstanding position as an important supplier to the international timber market, thereby diminishing revenue from the import sector.

Mr Kufuor, who is also the current United Nation Envoy for Climate Change, mentioned that it is about time government collaborated with stakeholders to avert the situation.

He was speaking at the maiden National REDD+ Forum organised by the Forestry Commission in Accra under the theme ‘Conserving our forests for better lives and a better climate.’

The forum was to solicit political commitment and public support for actions and measures targeted at addressing drivers of deforestation, as part of Ghana’s contribution to ongoing global efforts towards abating climate change and its impacts.

He, however, said the emergence of REDD+ in Ghana presented an opportunity for the country to further complement ongoing efforts towards the sustainable management and conservation of its forests.

REDD+ is an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation while the plus sign (+) represents activities that offer co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation, sustainable forest management and carbon stocks enhancement.

Kufuor said through REDD+, Ghana would not only reduce deforestation and thereby contribute to global efforts aimed at mitigating climate change, but also derive the myriad ecological, social and economic benefits associated with the sustainable management of forests.

The Minister for Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, said his outfit had commenced the implementation of a new forest and wildlife policy which is expected to transform the sector into a more vibrant and positive one.

The new policy, he said, has shifted focus from overreliance on revenue from timber production to maximising revenue from ecotourism development, watershed protection, payment from environmental services and the restoration of degraded landscapes, which hitherto were not recognised as potential elements of socio-economic development.

He said the need for concerted effort towards the protection of the forest and other natural resources is no more only a national issue requiring attention but has also become a matter of global concern.

The minister indicated that the major drivers of deforestation are all related to human activities such as inappropriate farming practices, illegal exploitation of timber, illegal mining, excessive fuel harvesting and rampant wildfires.

He said these have led to the significant loss of prime timber species and biodiversity, heavy pollution and drying up of many water bodies, increased soil erosion and loss of soil fertility, as well as change of rainfall patterns.

He entreated all to use the forum to create the necessary awareness on the values of the forest as a source of raw material, a provider of employment, food fuel-wood, shelter, habitats for wildlife, source  of water bodies and many other eco-system services, including carbon sequestration as well as climate and temperature regulation.