CFCs share lessons on Forest Protection
Seventeen Community Forest Committees (CFCs) formed in various communities around the Asenanyo and Numia forest reserves, have met in Kumasi to share some lessons and experiences gathered during their six months of service as watchdogs over the reserves.
The CFCs recounted that before their formation, the sound of chainsaw in the forest was the order of the day and not the concern of anyone. They said currently, their knowledge about the importance of the forest especially to generations unborn is enough incentive to prohibit the menace; hence a rigorous fight against illegal chainsaw operations. They confessed that through CFC, they have realized that communities also have a stake in every timber sold and this has led to the successful signing of Social Responsibility Agreements (SRA) between timber contractors and communities. A recent one was signed with Dotom community.
They commended the support of the forestry officials which, they claim, has been an encouragement to them. However, a common complaint by almost all the CFCs was the various forms of threats they receive from illegal operators and some community members which include attempts to burn their cocoa farms, homes and death threats. But they were confident that the intimidation did not constitute a deterrent to their civic responsibility.
‘’If you allow chainsaw operators to destroy our forest, you should know that the SRA projects such as boreholes, roofing sheets, schools etc. that the community will benefit from have been taken away by an individual’’ District Forest Manager of Nkawie, Nana Bosompim cautioned CFC members.
Nana Bosompim advised that forest offenses are not limited to Illegal chainsaw operations, but illicit mining, farming and burning of charcoal in the forest, equally forms part of forest illegalities.
The Ashanti Regional Manager of the Forestry Commission (FC), Mr. Oduro Barni, was appreciative of the enthusiasm of the committee members and promised that the Forestry Commission would revive its internal support processes to ensure the sustenance of the CFCs.
As it stands now, the involvement of fringe communities in the forest discourse with regards to illegalities seems to be gradually recognized by stakeholders as a core step in achieving sustainable forest management.
The workshop was funded by the EU through WWF-UK under the project ”Advancing a Legal and sustainable global Timber trade through the EU FLEGT Action Plan” .
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