Nii Osah Mills, the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, has inaugurated an 11-member Forestry Commission Board to provide strategic direction for the regulation of the use of forest and wildlife resources.
The Board headed by Mr Edward Prah would also see to the conservation and management of the resources as well as coordination of policies related to the forest and wildlife resources.
Nii Osah Mills urged the Board members to help tackle the issues of deforestation and forest degradation that was impacting biodiversity, extinction of prime timber species, drying of water bodies and climate change effects.
“In this regard, there is the need to urgently restore the rapidly declining values and functions of the forest to ensure a continuous flow of benefits to all segments of society,” he said.
Besides, the Board must also focus attention on delays in the conversion of all leases to Timber Utilisation Contracts, which is very critical to the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreement and the over exploitation of Rosewood from the ecologically fragile savanna ecosystem.
The Minister cited illegal chainsaw and illegal mining activities, including encroachment on forest reserves by farmers, limited investments by the private sector in forest plantation and ecotourism development and reversing adverse impacts of climate change on livelihoods as some of the challenges the Board must address.
He also tasked the Board to oversee the smooth implementation of the New Forest and Wildlife Policy-2012, which has shifted focus from over-reliance on revenues from timber production to biodiversity conservation, ecotourism development and watershed management and protection.
Nii Osah Mills asked members to apply the principles of integrity, honesty, objectivity and humility as well as make the national interest paramount in the discharge of their duties.
In response, Mr Prah, the Board Chairman, pledged the full cooperation of members to cordial, effective, transparent but decisive working relations with the management of the Commission.
“We shall stay within our boundaries of developing strategies for policies and guiding and supervising implementation, “he said.
Mr Prah called for open communication with the Ministry and cooperation of the management and staff to ensure success in all assignments.
The other members of the Board include Ms Agnes Bertha, Mr Samuel Afari Dartey, Chief Executive Officer of Forestry Commission, Awulae Attibrukusu III, Naa (Dr) Puoure Puobe Chiir VII and Mr Moomen Alhassan.
The rest are Richard Dua Nsenkyire, Mr Kingsley Ghartey, Dr Ernest Asare Abeney, Dr Wilfred Anim-Odame and Mr Gerald Boakye.