The Ghana Institute of Foresters (GIF) conducted its 26th annual general meeting at the Forestry Commission Training Centre, Akyawkrom, focusing on the theme “Sustaining the Ecological Integrity of Ghana's Forests”.
During the meeting, the institute addressed critical issues posing threats to the nation's forests and biodiversity.
GIF expressed concern about the impact of the Environmental Protection Regulation L.I. 2462, which allows mining leases in forest reserves for up to 24 years.
The meeting highlighted the rapid increase in mining activities, posing threats not only to the forests but also to biodiversity and essential ecological services.
The institute noted the potential threat to Ghana's economy, particularly cocoa production, due to mining on arable lands.
This poses a risk of a potential EU ban on cocoa exports if environmental concerns are not promptly addressed.
GIF emphasized Ghana's commitment to international conventions on biodiversity conservation and climate change.
The institute stressed the crucial role of forests in mitigating climate change and called for policies to align with these commitments.
The meeting concluded with several recommendations, including the repeal of L.I. 2462, cessation of new mineral concessions, reclamation of mined-out areas, and the involvement of the military to combat illegal mining.
Professor Samuel Oppong, the GIF National President, called for an executive ban on all mining activities in forest reserves, supported by legislation.
He stressed the need for political will in the fight against mining activities in forest reserves and appealed to traditional authorities to halt issuing permits for mining in these areas.
GIF expressed its commitment to collaborating with the government and stakeholders to safeguard Ghana's forests, recognizing their crucial role in biodiversity conservation, clean water provision, oxygen production, wildlife habitat, and climate change mitigation.
The institute's strong stance signals a united front against looming threats to Ghana's invaluable forests, urging immediate and comprehensive action to ensure the sustainable management and preservation of this vital natural resource.