Her Excellency, the French Ambassador;
Directors of the various agencies represented here;
Representatives of Non-Governmental Organisations;
Our friends from the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure and honour to join you this morning as we launch Phase II of the ECONOBIO PROJECT, which seeks to develop green value chains in and around a number of selected Protected Areas for the benefit of our local communities. This is, without a doubt, a commendable initiative which deserves our support.
Ladies and Gentlemen, before I continue, I want to say how happy I am to be in the company of my very good friend, the French Ambassador, Her Excellency Anne Sophie Ave’; undoubtedly one of the most dynamic diplomats in our country.
I would also like to thank the Ambassador, for her support and leadership, which has led to the establishment of a Shea processing facility in Murugu in my beloved constituency of Damongo. The people of Murugu are forever grateful.
You Excellency, ladies and Gentlemen, the contribution of forests and wildlife resources to the protection of our environment, and particularly to our fight against climate change, cannot be overstated. Yet, human activities over the years, such as, illegal logging, bushfires, excessive fuel-wood harvesting, bad agricultural practices, and illegal mining, continue to pose a serious threat to these natural resources.
Globally, it is reported that the earth’s forest areas shrunk by a whopping hundred million hectares between the years of 2000 and 2015 alone. In Ghana, we have lost some eight million hectares of our forest cover from 1900 to date, with almost one million hectares being lost in the last few years. This cannot continue. We must take urgent and bold steps to reverse this trend if we are to enjoy the numerous benefits biodiversity presents us.
It is in the spirit of this commitment that we launched the Green Ghana Project, which saw us plant over five million trees across the country on 11th June, 2021, the Green Ghana Day. We hope to scale this up yearly, and plant some hundred million trees by the year 2024.
Within the fragile savanna ecological zones in Northern Ghana, the Forestry Commission, in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners, are also implementing the Shea Landscape REDD+ programme which seeks to address some of the critical natural resources management challenges in the savanna parklands to save our Shea trees, Dawadawa and other economic trees from rapid degradation.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the Project we launch today, is another important intervention to protect our forests and biodiversity, while at the same time improving the lives and livelihoods of our people. It combines community development, small industrialization and biodiversity conservation to increase income and preserve natural resources. This clearly aligns with our Forest and Landscape Restoration Master Plan and the Forest and Wildlife Policy.
I am happy to learn, that one of the focus areas of the Project will be the Community Resource Management Areas (CREMAs) concept, being implemented under the Ghana Forest Investment Programme, to enhance the capacity of the local communities to manage their natural resources. It is my hope that the lessons learnt from the implementation of this concept in the Western and Western North Regions, will guide us moving forward.
Your Excellency, I must add, that I am excited that the good and dignified people of my own constituency of Damongo, are going to benefit from this important intervention. I will encourage the youth and women in particular, in the selected areas, to take active part in this Project and I pledge my full support and that of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to its successful implementation.
Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen, the commitment of the government of Ghana to safeguard our environment, and protect the natural ecosystem is unflinching and total. This is crucial to reversing the negative impacts of climate change on our people and improve their living conditions. The government will therefore play its role to see to the success of this Project.
In conclusion, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to express our gratitude to the Government and People of the French Republic for their support to this Project. To all the stakeholders involved in its implementation, we will require your commitment and dedicated, and I assure you of government’s unwavering support to bring this to fruition.
A person who works to protect the environment, works to protect our planet. That duty is a Godly one. We can, and will mobilise the majority of our population to safeguard our environment and ecosystem.