Ghana wildlife Society has reviewed legislations and policies on wildlife to ensure sustainable land-use through effective environmental assessment in Ghana.
This report, which reviewed 124 legislations and 28 policies span three thematic areas such as protected areas which include agriculture and environmental assessment in Ghana.
The report also synthesizes a long list of Ghanaian domestic, parents and subsidiary legislation and regulations, international legislation signed and ratified by Ghana, including regional treaties (whether or not transposed into domestic law) and relevant policies across the three themes, including an analysis of the gaps in legislation and substantive policy.
This report is intended to collate all legislation, regulations and substantive policies that are relevant to agriculture, protected areas and environmental assessment.
The aim, is to provide insight into the requirements that exist within current legislations and policy in the aforementioned areas, and provide recommendations for changes that could strengthen the effectiveness of these requirements to deliver sustainable land use and conserve biodiversity.
Speaking at the launch, the Executive Director of the Ghana Wildlife Society, Mr Eric Lartey, said, despite the existence of a broad spectrum of legislation, weak governance structures, inadequate implementation and gaps within the current legislation have made it difficult to ensure sustainable land use and Ghana’s development.
The report, according to Mr Lartey, which took a year to complete, was in line with the Ghana Wildlife Society’s mandate to contribute to the policy making and implementation process.
With support from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), a partner of BirdLife in the UK, Mr Lartey said the Taylor Crabbe Initiative was commissioned to review the legal and policy framework governing the three areas.
He added that the review also forms part of BirdLife’s East Atlantic Flyway Initiative (EAFI) programme of work, focused on migratory birds of the African-Eurasian Flyway that migrate through landscapes of West Africa as their wintering grounds.
In his view, the report would serve as a one-stop shop where stakeholders could find a list of policies and legislation.
He appealed to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources to speed up the Wildlife Resources Management Bill which had been in and out of parliament for the past five years.
“We indeed need sensitization on our legislative framework governing wildlife to legitimize the role of resource dependent communities and provide incentives for natural resource management,” he said.
The Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, in charge of forestry, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, admitted that Ghana’s forest reserves and protected areas were currently faced with a myriad of threats.
The threat included illegal mining popularly known as galamsey, illegal logging, agricultural expansion, excessive fuel wood harvesting, rampant wildfires and housing.
“These drivers have led to significant changes in land use in Ghana and this is negatively impacting on the biodiversity and ecological health of our forest and savannah landscapes, as well as the environment in general,” he said.
According to him, the government had taken some major interventions such as the Multi-Sectoral Mining Integrated Project which is to fight illegal mining and the Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) to tackle illegal logging of timber as well.
He stressed that the Ministry, through the Ghana Forest Investment Programme (GFIP), is also pursuing policy reforms that would allow farmers to enjoy benefits from nurturing trees on their farms.
“This policy reform will motivate farmers to keep trees on their farms to reduce deforestation and forest degradation, especially in off-reserve areas,” he stated.
He was confident that the Wildlife Bill which seeks to consolidate all wildlife laws and make wildlife management more effective and sustainable would be passed by parliament soon as it was currently before cabinet.
The Head of International Policy Programmes of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSSPB), Mr Andrew Callender, said sustainable management of natural resources was a major challenge of nations around the world.
He said the report was part of efforts to address issues of sustainable management of resources.
The Director of the Centre for Climate Change and Sustainable Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, Prof. Erasmus Heneku Owusu, expressed hope that the report would help strengthen legislations and policies governing the environment for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).