ECOWAS Dialogue on forests: Ghana Forest stakeholders validate national forest convergence plan report
Ghana’s draft national forestry report validated as the country’s contribution to the attainment of a West African Convergence plan for the conservation and sustainable management of forest ecosystems in the sub-region.
It can be described as the reunion of the forest sector stakeholders (forest managers, civil society representatives, private sector representatives, small and medium scale enterprises, socio-professional groups, etc), when the Government of Ghana assisted by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the United Nations Food and Agriculture (FAO), and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) met on the 2nd and 3rd April, 2012 at the Errata Hotel, Accra, in Ghana.
Close to 60 participants took part in the two days of discussions and exchanges that led to the validation of Ghana’s national convergence plan report.
Declaring open the workshop, the Honorable Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, represented by the Executive Director of the Wildlife Division of the Forestry Commission charged the stakeholders to ensure that the draft report reflected the main elements of the new Ghana Forest and Wildlife Policy. He also noted that “having a convergence plan for the sub region will enable countries share experiences in sustainable resource management and widen approaches in dealing with resource depletion”.
Representing the ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Agriculture, Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Johnson BOANUH, said the convergence plan was to bring together the various national efforts to harmonize the approach for concerted and sustainable management of forest ecosystems within the West African sub-region. He opined that it will also provide the sub-region with the unifying framework for which member states would agree to put together their national and regional actions on sustainable management of forest ecosystems to contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The IUCN Regional Director for West and Central Africa represented by the Regional Forest Program Coordinator Dr. Gretchen Walters, hoped that the dialogue will engender a new regional dynamic which will give forests their place in the politics and development of the region as a whole.
She reiterated the fact that IUCN is awaiting the possibility of the development of new stakeholder partnerships that will engage with foresters to support their efforts in recognizing the place of forests as national and regional capital upon which it is essential to recapitalize for the maximization of revenues to the benefit of all.
Forests in Ghana
Ecologically, Ghana is divided into a high forest zone in the south, accounting for about one-third of the land area (8.2 million hectares), a savanna zone (15.7 million hectares) mostly in the north, and a transition zone (1.1 million hectares). FAO (2010) estimated that Ghana had 4.94 million hectares of natural forest in 2010, which is about 22% of the land area. It is also estimated that the country has a total area of about 13,700 hectares of mangrove forests. Between 2000 and 2010, Ghana lost an average of 115,000 hectares or 2.1% of forest per year. Ghana’s forest contained almost 465 and 381 million metric tons of carbon in living forest biomass in 2000 and 2010 respectively.
Agriculture, including forestry, is the backbone of the Ghanaian economy. It provides 43% of the Gross Domestic Product, 50% of export earnings and 70% of total employment. Forestry as a sub-sector accounts for 6% of GDP, 11% of export earnings and employs a labour force of 100,000 people (FC, 2010).