CSIR-Forestry Research Institute of Ghana supports land restoration

The Forestry Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-FORIG) has started a research programme to support the restoration, rehabilitation and protection of forests and water bodies destroyed by illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey. According to FORIG, the initiative follows a mandate from the government to work towards the rehabilitation of degraded mine sites in the country. The Director of CSIR-FORIG, Professor Daniel A. Ofori, told the Daily Graphic in Kumasi last Monday that it had the full complement of staff with excellent understanding of reclamation/rehabilitation and the necessary capacity for coordinating such an activity across the country. Prof. Ofori said the rate of deforestation and forest degradation in the country had arisen in recent years.

Depleting forest cover
From the country's original forest cover of 8.2 million hectares, since the onset of the last century, only an estimated 1.6 million hectares remained, he said. “Galamsey is fast becoming one of the major factors contributing to the rapid decline of forest resources in Ghana,” he said and urged the government to increase the tempo in the fight against the menace. Prof. Ofori said the reason why the forests needed to be preserved was because it provided direct employment to over 100,000 Ghanaians and indirect employment to over 2.5 million people, citing figures from the Ghana Statistical Service. In addition, timber exports earned the country about $180 million a year. The FORIG director said in most of the regions, large tracts of forests had been encroached upon and degraded by both mining companies and galamsey operators. “For instance, about 4.4 per cent, representing 2.5 km2, of the total area of the Offinso Shelterbelt Forest Reserve in the Ashanti Region were degraded by illegal mining in five years,” he added.

As part of the solution to the menace, the CSIR-FORIG is proposing the use of the Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) approach as a long-term measure. The approach, it said, sought to restore degraded landscapes such as mined sites by addressing socio-economic, ecological and environmental dimensions of reclaiming the degraded lands. “The approach ensures that economic development and livelihoods of people are taken care of in a manner that guarantees ecological resilience and sustainability of the landscape,” Prof Ofori stated.

Report by Daniel Kenu, Kumasi

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