By Bernard Bekoe,GNA
Nkawie (Ash), April 29, GNA - An innovative project that seeks to draw strong backing and active involvement of forest-dependent communities in the protection and efficient management of the nation’s forests has been launched at Nkawie in the Atwima-Nwabiagya District.
Under it, the people are being trained to use mobile phones and mobile phone application technology in reporting violations of the forest laws.
This comes amid the disturbing decline of Ghana’s closed forest – now reduced to less than 25 per cent of its original size.
The annual deforestation rate is put at two per cent, something, the Deputy Ashanti Regional Manager of the Forest Service Division (FSD) said gave cause for concern.
Mr. Isaac Noble Eshun, launching the project - “Community Based Real-Time Forest Monitoring” said it was important for stakeholders to combine efforts to stop the destruction.
It was to achieve just 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 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 is no mobile phones or internet connectivity”.
The FSD Deputy Regional Manager said improving the participation of the local people in the monitoring and reporting of unlawful forest activities – illegal chainsaw operation, mining, extension of admitted farms and settlements, was the way forward to preserve and promote forest good governance.
Mr. Enoch Kwame Ampadu, the Project Coordinator, noted that empowering 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.