A Rocha Ghana, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) focused on forest conservation, has held a sensitization forum for stakeholders in and around the Atiwa forest on the need to keep and sustain the forest reserve for biodiversity, livelihood and future gains.
The forum was on the theme: “strengthening the position and role of communities making processes and management of Atiwa forest reserve’’ at Kwabeng in the Eastern Region.
Mr Emmanuel Akom, the Project Manager, A Rocha, said the NGO sought to support and enhance the important biological areas, ecosystems and species of the reserve and looked for alternatives for communities whose livelihoods depended on it.
He said the forest had been under several threats from illegal hunting, farm encroachment, small scale and illegal miners, illegal logging, and other human activities, which has led to the depletion of part of the reserve.
Mr Bright Manso-Howard, the Assistant Eastern Regional Manager, Forestry Commission, said the Commission has procedures such as registration of property, which was renewable every six months, marking of stumps and logs, and measurement of a specific area of work in the forest.
He expressed regret that stakeholders often overlooked those areas.
He cautioned community leaders not to intervene for offenders who broke the forest laws and allow them to face the necessary sanctions.
Mr Ronald Abraham, Principal Basin Officer, Water Resources Commission, said the inadequate legal and regulatory mechanisms on waste management have led to our water bodies being polluted by illegal miners.
In a speech read by Mr Sadique Abubakar, the Deputy Coordinating Director on behalf of the Atiwa District Chief Executive, said destructive and unsustainable natural resource exploitation were threats facing communities.
He said addressing the challenges would effectively deal with global warming and support the livelihoods of our communities.
He added that the Atiwa forest had the greatest potential to become an ecotourism center and urged stakeholders to make it a reality.