As part of global effects to curb and reserve the menace of global warming and its resultant climate change, Ghana has committed itself to ongoing endeavours internationally and nationally to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
One of such international mechanisms that has emerged to mitigate climate change in the forest sector is the REDD+, which is evolving under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to provide incentives to developing countries in support of their efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation.
Ghana has been an active participant in this international process since its inception in 2008, with the National REDD+ Secretariat hosted by the Forestry Commission of Ghana.
In his keynote address at the 2nd National REDD+ Forum, on the dabbed “Strengthening Law Enforcement for Effective REDD+ Implementation” on Thursday, at the Accra International Conference Centre, the President of the republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said, the fight against deforestation and forest degradation has become critical to Ghana’s successes of tackling Climate Change.
President Akufo-Addo again noted that, the issue of Climate Change has become the biggest threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, to most leaders across the world.
President Nana Addo reiterated the commitment of his government, towards every action that prevents forest degradation and deforestation, and also increases the country’s forest cover.
“Our fight against the illegal mining phenomenon, also known as galamsey, is a case in point. In the 2016 Manifesto of my party, the New Patriotic Party, we indicated strongly our commitment to reforestation, forest rehabilitation and forest protection activities, realizing that forest cover has been depleted significantly in the last two decades.
We intend to undertake massive forest plantations, with both indigenous and exotic tree species, and also develop the bamboo and rattan industry, as they would serve as effective substitutes for furniture and other wood products,” the president stressed.
He further urged farmers and the local communities, not to allow illegal logging and mining to continue, thereby, charging the Security agencies on the roads, ports and borders not look on with a blind eye to allow illegal timber products bypass them without confiscation or indulge in corrupt practices.
“Most importantly, the Forestry Commission should strengthen its law enforcement measures to curb illegal logging, mining and unsustainable harvesting of forest products. To our students gathered here, I urge you to inculcate the habit of tree planting and conservation. As you do this, you begin to build a generation that is more sensitive to issues of environmental conservation,” Nana Addo added.
Charging the media and other CSOs, he said, “your work on advocacy is critical to keep all of us on our toes. Do not relent in your efforts, and deepen even further your knowledge on environmental issues and their reporting.”
He finally called on the Chief Justice and members of the Judiciary, to ensure that the fines and punishments that are pronounced on perpetrators of illegal forest activities are deterrent enough, quickly delivered and effected.
On her part at the summit, the Chief Justice, her Ladyship Justice Sophia Akuffo, said, she will ensure speedy trials for culprits who engage in acts of deforestation to serve as a deterrent for recalcitrants.
According to her, preserving the forest and the environment would not only save the earth, but is also a gift to unborn generations who will suffer the brunt of how bad the earth is treated today.
CJ Akuffo however, called for close collaborations between stakeholders to prosecute persons who degrade the forest and other natural resources.
“We cannot afford to fail the future generation, thus, the fight must be waged with all seriousness and none should be the weak link. We must all remember that for the time we spend on this earth, we are only custodians of the earth’s resources and duty bound to preserve them for posterity, for our children and we cannot afford to fail in this duty because to do so is to confine future generations unborn to a life of future disasters, drought and extreme temperature events.
Therefore, in the chain link for the enforcement and the application of the entire legal regime for the preservation of our environment, every part from the forestry workers, to the inspectors to the monitors to the security services, each has a part to play as well as the prosecutors and the courts and therefore, this chain must never be broken. It must be effective all the way along the line.
I make a special call to the men and women of the security forces, the Forestry Commission and all relevant agencies not to rest on their oars, but rather, we will all work together to ensure that all those who choose to deforest and degrade the environment will be arrested, duly prosecuted for the relevant punitive measures to be ordered against them.
On the part of the judiciary, I’ll ensure that all perpetrators are speedily tried, those found culpable given deserving punishments to serve as an effective deterrent to would-be law breakers. We have only one earth and let’s keep it safe,” CJ Akuffo reiterated.
Other speakers at the event includes; the former Chief Justice, her Ladyship Justice Georgina Theodora Wood as the Chairperson, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon. John Peter Amewu, the Chief Executive of the Forestry Commission, Mr. Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie.
Also present were, the Chief and People of Asempanaye Community at Offinso in the Ashanti Region, retired educationist, Prof. J.G.K Owusu of KNUST and School of Forestry fame, the country Director of World Bank, other CSOs, MMDCEs, the Chief Executive of Cocobod, security personnel and many others.
Activities performed includes; a Mini-Fair poster exhibition by key REDD+ actors; the private sector, NGOSs and other government agencies.
The summit was organized by the Ghana Forestry Commission, under the auspices of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, and partnered by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility, IUCN, TOUTON, SVN, KASA, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).