Hon. Samuel A. Jinapor, the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources says the ecological integrity of Ghana’s Forest Reserves has, largely, been maintained despite several threats which impact negatively on the all important resource. Some of these threats he said include bushfires, illegal mining and logging, agricultural expansion, settlement, among others.
Responding to a question on the floor of Parliament on the State of Forest reserves, the Lands Minister said the Forestry Commission has put in place several measures to protect Ghana’s Forest Reserves from various drivers of deforestation and forest degradation.
Among them are ” regular patrolling of the Forest Reserves, protection and maintenance of internal and external boundaries of Forest Reserves, awareness creation and stakeholder sensitization, decommissioning and demobilisation of equipment used for illegalities in the Forest Reserves, destruction of illegal farms, arrest and prosecution of forest offenders, as well as Wildfire Prevention, Control and Suppression interventions”
According to the Minister, a number of tree planting exercises are being carried out to restore the portions of our Forest Reserves that have been affected by these drivers of deforestation, through initiatives such as Green Ghana Project, Youth in Afforestation/Reforestation Project and the Modified Taungya System.
On curbing illegal mining in Forest Reserves, Minister Jinapor said his outfit has suspended reconnaissance, prospecting and/or exploration in Forest Reserves, except in exceptional circumstances. “And we have declared River Bodies, most of which have their sources in Forest Reserves, as Red Zones for mining” He added.
He also announced that a total of six Forest Entry Permit have been issued for mining in Forest Reserves. They are as follows:
1.CIMAF Ghana Ltd – this permit was granted in 2018 and expired in 2021. The permit is, thus, no longer in force;
2.Chirano Gold Mines Ltd – this permit was renewed in 2019; after the existing permit granted in 2004 expired in 2019;
3.Kingsperp Mining Ltd – granted in 2020;
4.Koantwi Mining Co. Ltd. – granted in 2020;
5.Onex International Co. Ltd – granted in 2020; and
6.Trans Atlantic Logistics Ltd – granted in 2020.
He stressed that out of these six (6), only Chirano Gold Mines and Koantwi Mining Co. Ltd are actually involved in mining. The others are still working on other permits and/or authorisations required to commence their operations.
Hon. Jinapor also updated the house on measures being taken on illegal miners in the forest resources, he said several persons arrested at these Forest Reserves for engaging in illegal mining are currently standing trial. “The most recent ones include six (6) people arrested in the Tano Suraw Extension Forest Reserve in November, 2022, two (2) people arrested in the Upper Wassaw Forest Reserve in November, 2022, three (3) Chinese Nationals arrested in the Oda River and Apamprama Forest Reserves in January 2023, with twenty-six persons arrested this February for their alleged involvement in illegal mining around the Atewa Range Forest Reserve”
All these measures, together with several others being taken by Government against illegal mining, the Minister said are yielding some results, with some of the river bodies visibly clearing up.
Answering questions on the protection of public lands, he said the Ministry is working in collaboration with the Lands Commission, to undertake an inventory of public lands, including those that have been encroached upon, to ensure maximum protection of these lands.
Section 236 of the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036) he opined, enjoins the Lands Commission or any agency for whose benefit land has been acquired, to take the necessary steps to recover the land from encroachment. This he noted, includes using reasonable force to eject encroachers from the land, and demolish any structure on the land.
To complement the public land protection agenda, the Lands Minister said his Ministry has constituted a public lands protection team to support the efforts of the Lands Commission and the Ghana Police Service in the protection of public lands. Adding that “We are, also, engaging Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), to take steps to protect lands acquired for their use, or that fall within the jurisdiction of the Assemblies”.
Hon. Jinapor assured the House that the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, under the able leadership of President Akufo-Addo, will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the proper, efficient and effective management of Ghana’s Forest Reserves for the benefit of current and future generations.