Legislation to strengthen community management of natural resources soon

Accra, The Government Wednesday said it would soon place the Wildlife Resource Management Bill before Parliament for passage into law to back community participation, governance and ownership of the natural resources, particularly, the wildlife and forest resources.

The Law would also consolidate all the fragmented policies on natural resource conservation and give a backing to the Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) for the protection of Ghana’s biodiversity and ecosystem.

Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, a Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Forestry, announced this at the National Policy Dialogue on Natural Resources, in Accra, on Wednesday.

Empowering Communities to Manage Natural Resources Sustainably: A Review of Community Resource Management Area (CREMA) Implementation in Ghana is the theme chosen for the dialogue.

The event brought together CREMA members, natural resource experts, representatives of civil society organisations and the development partners to deliberate and evaluate the concept of CREMA and share ideas on best ways of managing the wildlife and forest resources to meet the socio-economic needs of Ghanaians.

The Deputy Minister said the continued loss of the forest resources was of great concern to the Government, especially at a period the country and world at large, were battling the effects of climate change and other illegal activities.

These include illegal mining, chainsaw operation and encroachment on forest reserves.

Mr Owusu-Bio, therefore, called for collective action towards reversing the negative trend and the empowerment of communities to effectively manage their resources towards the sustainability of the natural resources for the improvement of local livelihoods.

We have now reached a critical stage where we need to collaborate and empower communities to assist in the management of the natural resources for future utilisation, he emphasised.

He gave the assurance that the Government would equip community-based natural resource governance systems towards the conservation and sustainable utilisation of the natural resources.

To that end, he said, the Enhancing Natural Forest and Agro-forest Landscape Project of the Ministry remained committed towards the establishment and governance of CREMA in five selected blocs in the Western Region.

Additionally, he said, the Ministry was constructing Offices in each of the five CREMA blocs in the Region to enhance their activities.

According to the Ghana Forest Investment Programme, the nation loses two per cent of her forest annually, translating to the loss of about seven hundred thousand hectares of forest cover and wildlife habitat.

This is due to unsustainable use of the natural resources, especially in protected areas.

It is upon that premise that the dialogue is being held to court local communities’ support towards the governance and conservation of the wildlife and forest ecosystems through CREMA implementation.

Mr Louis Kuu Kpen, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Assistant Country Director, on his part, reiterated the need for responsible, fair and equitable utilisation of the natural resources in conformity with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 12.

In that regard, he said, it was prudent to recognise the key fundamental roles played by community-based natural resource management bodies like CREMA towards the conservation of the biodiversity and ecosystems.

I hope that we can use this platform to have another look at the CREMA concept in terms of how far it has come, what is working and what is not, and how to address these gaps in the implementation of the concept, moving forward, Mr Kuu Kpen stated.

Source: Ghana News Agency