Under the project, launched by the Forest Services Division (FSD), the people are being trained to use mobile phones and mobile phone application technology report violations of the forest laws.
This comes amidst the disturbing decline of Ghana’s closed forest – now reduced to less than 25 per cent of its original size.
The Deputy Ashanti Regional Manager of the FSD, Mr Isaac Noble Eshun, said the annual deforestation rate was put at two per cent, a situation which gave cause for concern.
Launching the project dubbed: “Community Based Real-Time Forest Monitoring,” Mr Eshun said it was important for stakeholders to combine efforts to stop the destruction.
It was to achieve this that the capacity of the forest fringe communities was being built to correctly identify any infraction of the forest laws and report for verification and action by the appropriate state institutions.
He said the introduction of information technology was a lesson from the success story of a similar project in Cameroun by the Rainforest Foundation, where community members were trained to capture and transmit accurately geo-referenced reports on forest illegalities to a central database in real-time, even where there was no mobile phone or internet connectivity.
Mr Eshun said improving the participation of local people in the monitoring and reporting of unlawful forest activities such as illegal chainsaw operation, mining, extension of admitted farms and settlements was the way to go to preserve the forest.
Mr Enoch Kwame Ampadu, the Project Co-ordinator, said powering the communities through training and the use of technology would enable them to hold logging companies to account for their actions and, thereby, ensure transparency in their operations.
He said he was confident that when given the needed training and support the communities could make significant contribution towards safeguarding the forest and its resources.
By Bernard Bekoe, – GNA