Ghana — The Volta Region has been able to increase its forest cover as a result of bilateral cooperation between the Government of Ghana and the German Government, to rehabilitate destroyed forest areas, dubbed Forest Protection and Resource Use Management Project (FORUM).
The project, which has been implemented for the past fifteen years, would come to an end on 28th February 2008, after successfully increasing the forest cover in fifteen districts of the region, including the Nkwanta, Ho, Kpando, Jasikan and South Tongu districts.
Statistics available indicate that, there was an increase in forest cover in forest reserves from 6,000 hectares from 1976 to 14,000 hectares in 2007, and increase in wood-fuel production from small scale plantations from 0.00m3 from 1994 to 50,000m3 in 2007, in the Region.
The FORUM project also assisted in the poverty reduction strategy, as communities in these areas cultivate cash-crops like mango and orange and other fruits along the boundaries of the forests, which enables the people to appreciate the FORUM project as it helps them generate more income for their families.
As a result of a successful implementation of the FORUM project, the German Ambassador to Ghana, Dr. Marius Haas paid a working visit to the Volta Region to acquaint himself with German-sponsored projects, particularly the FORUM projects, which took him to the Abutia-Hills Forest Reserve, in the Ho Municipality.
Ambassador Haas commended the Forestry Commission, particularly the Volta Regional branch, for their hard work and stressed the need to protect the reserves for the benefit of the people, not only in the region but the country as a whole.
The German Ambassador noted that the German Government attaches great importance to the development drive of the country, and that is why his country has supported Ghana with 53 million Euros for the two-year period.
He said he was satisfied with the selections of the FORUM project, and indicated that his country had no reason to show dissatisfaction about the project, in view of the successes achieved within the period.
The Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Prof. Ashie Kotey, assured the German Ambassador of the preparedness of the Government to sustain the FORUM project, as relevant steps have been taken to ensure the continuous sustenance of the project.
The Chief Executive pointed out that since the inception of the project, a systematic capacity building programme, through training, has been put in place for forestry officers, aimed at enhancing their capacity in collaborative approach to forest conservation and management.
Prof. Kotey said in the communities, 38 collaborative forest management committees and one regional association of Community Fire Management Committees (CFMCS) were also formed and trained in all aspect of forest protection, rehabilitation and fire prevention measures.
He said the Forestry Commission appreciated the success story of the FORUM project in the Volta Region, and would do every thing possible to ensure that adequate financial support was provided to the CFMCS to effectively fight wildfire, to ensure that gains made by the project would not be affected.
The Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, assured the Ambassador that the FORUM project would not only be extended to other districts, but would also jealously protect and guide against wanton destruction by wildfire.
Mr. Dzamesi emphasized that the Volta Region abounds in all the vegetation zones, starting from the coast at Keta, the forest at Hohoe through Jasikan to the savanna at Kete-Krachi, which makes the region unique among the other regions in the country.
He stressed that the numerous tourist attractions was also another area that needed to be developed.
The Volta Regional Director of Forestry, Mr. W.E.K Bimah, pledged his outfit’s readiness to make use of experts in the forestry area, to develop and maintain the forests in the region.
Mr. Bimah took the German Ambassador, Dr. Haas, the Volta Regional Minister, Mr. Samuel Kofi Dzamesi, the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission and other stakeholders round the Abutia Hills Forest reserve.