Women have been urged to take advantage and opportunities in the Community Resource Management (CREMA) structure to contribute to development of their communities, lives, and families.
In the community governance structure, a by-law of CREMA allows women to be part of the Executive and at least two women to participate in the management of the resource.
Ms Betty Boante Abeyie, a Senior Projects Officer of the Kumasi wood cluster Association, an NGO, and a member of Women in Forestry, gave the advice in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Bolgatanga.
She said women’s participation gave them better opportunities in talking to their peers and together could fight against climate change especially in the CREMA.
Ms Abeyie said the CREMAs included resources outside forests reserves, and that allowed women to integrate trees with agricultural products and by doing so they could get land to farm and apply for a timber utilisation permits from Forestry Commission to harvest some of the trees for personal use such as roofing one’s house since it was a community resource.
On whether women could access some parts of the natural forests reserves for their use, she said communities that had their farms that fell within forest protected areas prior to gazetting of the forests were classified as ‘admitted farm’ and in such communities though they were allowed to cultivate those lands, they could not expand their activities.
She noted that the caveat however was that a permit must be obtained from the Forestry Commission which was mandated to manage such areas in trust for the people and added that it did not take the rights of women who live in fringe communities.
“Despite the opportunities for women in forest fringe communities, if the collection of non-forest products is not regulated one person can claim everything but we are looking at sustainable harvesting and collection so that one’s livelihood is not taken away at once,” she added.
She indicated that when timber was harvested in a ‘reserved area’, a percentage of the proceeds were supposed to go to the community and the District Assemblies.
She noted that in the forestry value chain women were not concentrated in the production aspect but few were in the factories and a majority in the sales of timber products.