Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, on Friday November 26, said the government was rolling out a National Forest Plantation Development Programme with an employment target of 51,000 jobs.
He said the programme, which was being implemented in all 170 political districts of the country, has a planting target of 51,000 by the end of 2011.
The Minister made the announcement when he met the Dutch Taskforce on Biodiversity and Natural Resources to discuss biodiversity conservation in Ghana, at the Kakum National Park, near Cape Coast.
He said the programme was to help identify additional sources of wood supply to reduce pressure on the natural forest resources and to bridge the huge gap between wood demand and supply. He was however worried that long-term funding of the programme to ensure its sustainability was a major challenge and stressed that it would require additional funding from development partners.
Alhaji Dauda said another major challenge the nation faced in biodiversity conservation was the high rate of deforestation as a result of wildfires, excessive illegal logging and chainsaw lumbering, surface mining and fuel-wood harvesting.
He said encroachment on forest reserves was another problem that required immediate attention and added that through funding from the Natural Resources and Environmental Governance Programme (NREG), of which the Netherlands Government was a major contributor, efforts were being made to resettle communities near forest reserves since they were becoming a serious threat to the reserves.
He also mentioned inadequate infrastructural development of the National Parks to fully exploit their tourism potentials as another challenge. The Minister noted that about 60 percent of the nation’s population lived in the rural areas and were highly dependent on biodiversity and ecosystem for their livelihoods. GNA