Guidelines for the training of staff members of the Forestry Commission (FC) to provide extension services to tree growers are being developed under the Forest Investment Programme (FIP): Enhancing Natural Forests and Agro-Forest Landscapes Project being implemented in Ghana.
This is in recognition of the fact that providing tree extension services is important for promoting the establishment of tree plantations to render ecosystem system services and provide timber for local and overseas industrial consumption in the wake of Ghana’s dwindling natural forests, whose total carbon stock has fallen from 568 million tonnes in 1970 to 380.9 million tonnes in 2010.
Consequently, developing the capacity of field staff of the FC to provide such essential services would ensure the realization of the goal of the project which is aimed at reducing forest loss and degradation in selected landscapes in Ghana’s High Forest Zone in order to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, abate poverty and conserve biodiversity.
This information was disclosed by the FC at an “Expert Consultation Workshop on Options for improving Smallholder Forest Plantations In Productive Landscapes” organised by Tropenbos International (TBI) Ghana under its Landscape Restoration Project (LRP) at Kumasi on February 8.
The FIP: Enhancing Natural Forests and Agro-Forest Landscapes Project consists of four components. These include; Policy Reforms and Institutional Strengthening aimed at advancing the implementation of reformed policies to create an enabling environment and also strengthen the institutional means for achieving sustainable landscape and forest management; and Pilot Investments for Improved Forest and Landscape Management with Communities designed to establish and demonstrate improved forests and landscapes management practices that would be replicated countrywide.
The other two components are Innovations, Capacity Building and Communications under which communities would be engaged and provided with relevant information for improved landscape management practices and Project Management, Monitoring and Coordination.
After the capacity of FC staff has been built, piloting of tree extension services will be carried out in the Brong-Ahafo and Western Regions where local communities working in forest and agro-forest landscapes will be engaged in REDD+ activities and subsequently up scaled to the rest of Ghana. One major challenge however is how lessons learnt would be applied to the savannah parts of the country due to the difference in landscape.
The project which is managed by the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources (MLNR) is being funded under the global 789 million dollar FIP, a funding window of the 8.1 billion dollar Climate Investment Fund (CIF) established to support developing countries to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and promote sustainable forest management and enhancement of forest carbon stocks (REDD+) that is currently active in eight pilot countries including Ghana.
The ‘Expert Consultation Workshop’ was attended by 25 participants drawn from the FC, Academia, the Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), Policy Makers, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and plantation developers.
Two students who had undertaken research under the Landscape Restoration Project made presentations on ‘Barriers to Smallholder Plantation Development’ and ‘Options for Addressing Barriers to Smallholder Forest Plantation Development’ which served as a basis for brainstorming by the experts at three plenary discussions.