President Akufo-Addo with the Board and Management of the Forestry Commission
PRESIDENT Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says it is his hope that Ghana will be green again in the next 10 years, God willing, as all the trees which are being planted today will be nurtured to grow and increase the forest cover and help the nation also to reduce emission from deforestation and forest degradation.
According to him, the existence of Ghanaians will be determined by what “we make of our natural resources,” for which his government will support every action that prevents forest degradation and deforestation as well as an act that increases the nation’s forest cover.
Speaking at the launching of Youth in Afforestation Programme in Kumasi, President Akufo-Addo stated that the government’s fight against illegal mining popularly called ‘galamsey’ would continue unabated.
He indicated that the youth in afforestation programme was crucial to the realization of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 “which requires us to protect, restore and promote sustainable use of eco-system to enable us manage forest, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss.”
The President said he was also aware that, as a co-chair of a group of advocates of imminent persons of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, the reduction of emission from deforestation and land degradation is at the heart of SDG 13.
“It requires that we take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact,” he reiterated and urged all the people who have been employed in the programme to be diligent in the discharge of their duties.
“All the trees you are planning today will go a long way to save our lives and lives of generations unborn,” he noted.
President Nana Addo disclosed that in the 2016 manifesto of the NPP, they indicated strongly the party’s commitment to reforestation, forest rehabilitation and forest protection activities, after realizing that the forest cover has been significantly depleted in the last few decades.
“That is why we are deploying an army of some 20,000 people to restore our degraded forest. The programme, which has an initial two year-life span, will be extended based on satisfactory result. I’m confident that the first phase will be a success,” he asserted confidently
He indicated that Government had already begun the preparation for the second and subsequent phases, and that a total of 60,000 applications were received for the programme with only 20,000 spaces on offer.
“All hope is not lost for the 40,000 unsuccessful applicants. I am engaging with the Minister of Finance to seek addition funds to support this programme so that these remaining applicants can be recruited,” he said.
He added that the Forestry Commission was examining actively whether it could use some of its internally generated funds to support the programme.
Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, Chief Executive of Forestry Commission (FC), said Government of Ghana, in November 2016, launched the Ghana Forest Plantation Development Strategy: 2016-2040 (GFPS) – in line with the 2012 Forest and Wildlife Policy – which seeks among others to establish 25,000 hectares of forest plantations annually.
According to him, the GFPS also seeks to undertake Enrichment Planting of degraded forest reserves, planting of trees on farms, and maintenance/ rehabilitation of existing forest plantations.
Mr Owusu Afriyie aka Sir John stated that FC and the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), based on the GFPS, signed a service agreement for a joint implementation of the two-year forest plantation programme under the Youth in Agriculture and Afforestation module.
He intimated that even though 15,000 youth were to be recruited initially, the programme was over-subscribed as a result of interest expressed by the teeming youth.
“Currently, over 60,000 beneficiaries have been engaged under the programme, and out of the total number, about 30 percent are women,” he pointed out.
Sir John said there were over 20,000 applications to be considered but they had to put same on hold as they knocked on the doors of the Ministry of Finance to make money available for them to engage the applicants.
“Beneficiaries have been trained by Forestry Commission staff in coppice management, transfer of seedlings, nursery management, management of new seedlings, among others,” he told the gathering at the launch
From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi