Report suggests provision of more incentives to communities to protect the forests

Fumesua – Provision of more incentives to the Community Forest Committees (CFCs) has been identified as critical to efforts at protecting the forest and its resources.

A research finding by Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) in four forest districts concluded that this is the only way to motivate those in the forest fringe communities to take responsibility for stopping illegal logging in the reserves.

Insurance schemes, alternative and sustainable income sources and payment of monthly stipend for those engaged in community forest projects should be introduced to reduce their involvement in illegal timber activities.

The research was conducted in the Dunkwa, Offinso, Oda and Bechem Forest Districts as part of a one year project to strengthen the capabilities of the local communities in southern Ghana to tackle the forest depletion.

It was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Support (FLEGT) programme.

It sought to build the capacities of relevant stakeholders and determine motivational needs for monitoring and reporting of illegal logging.

Dr Lawrence Damnyag, a member of the Project Team, speaking at a workshop to draw the curtains down on the project at Fumesua, near

Kumasi, said even though structures such as CFCs, forest guards and others existed, the lack of adequate motivation was preventing them from actively carrying out the job of checking illegal timber felling.

He said illicit logging was a serious threat to the nation’s forest and therefore the need to discourage the people from engaging in such acts and CFCs need to be supported with logistics and incentives to police the reserves.

Dr Dominic Blay, the Team Leader, said the project which was started in May 2011 had trained and sensitized about 150 forest fringe community members from the southern sector on forest laws and agreements, including timber resources management Act and FLEGT agreement.

It also assisted the participants to better monitor and report illegal logging activities to the appropriate authorities for the necessary

action.

Dr Luke Anglaaere, a member of the team, underlined the need to build institutional and human capacity at the local levels to protect the forest.

Dr Ernest Foli, Deputy Director of FORIG, said the forest fringe communities had direct role in protecting the reserves and appealed to the Forestry Commission to device strategies to provide sustainable support for the communities. GNA

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