A total of 1,000 farmers in the country are set to receive capacity building training on the conservation of the African Teak, an endangered economic tree species.
The Institute of Nature and Environmental Conservation (INEC), a non-governmental organization focused on the preservation and protection of all plants as well as animals (bio-diversity), vulnerable to threats from human activities, has arranged the training.
It is doing this in collaboration with the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Forestry Commission (FC) and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) with funding from Fondation Franklinia, a Switzerland-based organization.
Mr David Kwarteng, the Director of INEC, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview in Kumasi that the training formed part of INEC’s project titled “Conservation of the Endangered African Teak”.
He said the species had been a target of unsustainable exploitation since the second half of the 20th century due to its incredible timber properties and versatility in its usage, but was feared endangered and this had necessitated the project.
According to him, the event would start in April this year and that the 1,000 farmers targeted for participation, were selected from five Districts- Bono, Bono East, Ahafo, Western and Western North Regions.
He said practical knowledge on how the species were cultivated, economic importance, the need to conserve the African teak and its massive commercial cultivation, will be shared at the training event.
Highlighting what the project sought to achieve, Mr Kwarteng said the African Teak scientifically called Percopsis elata and known by its trade name as Afromosia, is uniquely an African species of the teak tree.
“The overall goal of this project therefore is to improve the conservation status, and ensure its long-term sustainability to guard against any susceptibility to future extinction,” he added.
The project would also benefit many threatened species including Milicia excels (Odum), Triplochiton scleroxylon (Wawa), which were listed nationally as “black star” species, that was species ranked as internationally significant in global biodiversity context, rare globally and uncommon in Ghana.
Specifically, INEC will increase the population of the Afromosia species through enrichment planting, provide much needed data on the species’ phenology and ecology to underpin conservation management decisions.
Again, the project would implement targeted conservation education and awareness on the plight and conservation status of the species and inspire farmer acceptability and positive behaviour change, ultimately culminating into the large scale cultivation of African Teak plantations.
He expressed displeasure about the tree’s exploitation in Ghana which had pushed the Africa Teak to the brink of extinction, although national legislation prohibited its exploitation for both local and international timber markets.
The species has however been faced with threats from excessive illegal logging, illegal mining and activities of forest fringe communities.
Mr. Kwarteng mentioned that the natural regeneration of this species in the wild was nearly impossible because it had recalcitrant seeds that required pre-sowing treatment to break its dormancy.
He underlined the urgent need to restore Afromosia through enrichment planting and other targeted conservation interventions.