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Campaigners demand equitable distribution of timber proceeds

A research done by the Ghana REDD+ secretariat has identified that agriculture contributes up to 50 per cent to the causes of deforestation in Ghana,

This is so because the laws of the country do not favour farmers who nurture trees on their lands as a result of that, they resort to destroying them at a younger stage.

“Farmers and land owners have generally been dissatisfied with the existing benefit sharing arrangement. The result is that farmers prefer to kill-off naturally occurring trees than to nurture them on their farms .This has contributed to deforestation within agricultural land, especially in cocoa landscapes .However, to be completely fair, this situation has existed since 1948 when the then Forestry Department developed its Forest Policy.

“This has also been compounded by very “bad laws” or luck of it that allows farmers to destroy trees for agricultural purposes without any consequences, “the campaigners observed.

In a media workshop organized by Friends of the Earth (FoE) Ghana, Mr. Obed Owusu-Addai, Campaigner, EcoCare Ghana said the old regime of benefit sharing, totally side-lined the farmer and landowner as well as the host community where the timbers were harvested.

Experts in this area have indicated that government, over the years, decide to protect only forest reserve and not forest cover, which means leaving areas outside forest reserves for other land use options such as agriculture, which contributes the afore estimated 50 percent to deforestation.

He indicated that there had always been the need to ensure equitable, efficient, and effective distribution of the proceeds generated from the sale of timbers.

He, however noted that, the government had taken steps to address the challenge and when the newly proposed regime, when passed into law, will ensure that, of the benefits derived from tress harvested from off-reserved areas, farmers receive 60 percent of the economic value of the tree.

Ghana REDD+ secretariat further notes that the newly proposed tree tenure regime will avert this trend as farmers will be enticed and encouraged to keep and nurture economically viable trees on their farm lands, Mr. Owusu-Addai indicated.

Farmers currently get compensated for only the crops that have been destroyed on their farms.

Tree tenure is also seen by experts as a way to fight the growing problem of illegal small-scale gold mining, a practice called ‘galamsey’ in Ghana.

 

By: Latifa Carlos

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