Mr. Ernest Akubour Debrah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, on Monday appealed to parliament to amend existing legislations on bushfires to assist in curbing the practice that has assumed new dimensions.
He also asked traditional authorities and district metropolitan and municipal assemblies enact effective bye laws to stop the setting of bushfires.
Mr. Debrah made the appeal at the national launch of the 2007/2008 anti-bushfire campaign, under the theme “Ghana @ 50, prevent bushfires,” at Duayaw-Nkwanta in the Tano North District in the Brong-Ahafo Region. He said, “if we are to succeed in this war against bushfires, it is imperative for our actions to be underpinned by new and more stringent legislation.”
Mr Debrah urged the people, especially farmers, hunters, palm wine tapers and cigarette smokers to be careful in using matches and fire. “A disturbing aspect of the bushfire menace is that we have not come to full terms with its debilitating effects especially on national development and as such tend to underplay the importance of tackling it ahead.”
Mr. Debrah noted that the ultimate consequence of bushfires was environmental degradation, which resulted in poverty, hunger that affects national development.
Mr. Andrew Adjei-Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, expressed concern about the rapid degradation of the forest through wildfires and its impact on the environment and economy. He said the increase in bushfire especially during the past two decades had seriously threatened the survival of timber, eco-tourist sites and the environment.
Mr. Adjei-Yeboah said it was against this background that the Ministry launched the first national wildfire management policy, which sought to address issues concerning wildfires in a more comprehensive and multi-sectoral way.
He urged Ghanaians to embrace the policy as an important tool for sustainable resource management, enhancement of rural livelihoods and poverty alleviation.
Mr. Ajei-Yeboah expressed the hope that traditional rulers and district assemblies would cooperate with institutions involved in the implementation of the policy to restore the lost forest resources. Mr. Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, Regional Minister said out of the 261 fires recorded in the region in 2006, 80 were bushfires whilst out of the 388 fires recorded in 2007 so far, bushfires contributed to 157. Mr. Baffour-Awuah appealed to chiefs in the region to support government to fight against bushfires.