Former President John Agyekum Kufuor has called for a concerted effort from stakeholders to tackle the menace of climate change which is impacting negatively on our endeavours.
Speaking at the maiden REDD+ forum in Accra, President Kufuor said the long-term welfare of billions of people are at stake from the effect of climate change.
The REDD+ forum organized by the Forestry Commission was to solicit political commitment and public support for actions and measures targeted at addressing drivers of deforestation, as part of Ghana’s contribution to ongoing global efforts towards abating climate change and its impacts.
REDD+ is an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation while the plus sign (+) represents activities that offer co-benefits such as biodiversity conservation, sustainable forest management and carbon stock enhancement.
President Kufuor said the rapid loss of forest cover would affect food and agricultural production and affect the revenue that the country derives from the export of timber to the international market.
He lauded the REDD+ programme which he said would complement efforts to ensure the sustainable management and conservation of the forest.
President Kufuor, who is also the current United Nation Envoy for Climate Change, said the REDD+ would not only help reduce deforestation and thereby contribute to global efforts aimed at mitigating climate change but also promote social and economic benefits associated with the sustainable management of forests.
He called for collaboration from all stakeholders to avoid the negative effect.
Nii Osah Mills, Minister for Natural Resources, said the Ministry was implementing a new forest and wildlife policy to help transform the sector and make it more vibrant.
He said the new policy had shifted focus from over reliance on revenue from timber production to maximizing revenue from ecotourism development, watershed protection, payment from environmental services and the restoration of degraded landscapes.
He said the need for a concerted effort towards the protection of the forest and other natural resources is an issue of global concern.
The Minister said the major drivers of deforestation are all related to human activities such as inappropriate farming practices, illegal exploitation of timber, illegal mining, excessive fuel harvesting and rampant wildfires.
He said these have led to the significant loss of prime timber species and biodiversity, heavy pollution and drying up of many water bodies, increased soil erosion and loss of soil fertility, as well as change of rainfall patterns.
He entreated all to use the forum to create the necessary awareness on the values of the forest as a source of raw material, a provider of employment, food fuel-wood, shelter, habitats for wildlife, source of water bodies and many other eco-system services, including carbon sequestration as well as climate and temperature regulation.
The forum was on the theme: “Conserving our forests for better lives and a better climate.”