GHANA'S FORESTRY PROGRAMMES FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
The main forestry programme with direct relevance for climate change mitigation/ adaptation in Ghana is the REDD+ scheme (USAID 2011). Formal REDD+ activities in Ghana commenced from 2008 when the REDD+ Project Idea Note of Ghana was approved by the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF). Afterwards, Ghana began a project to ensure that preparatory activities to pave the way for a full National REDD+ scheme are completed by 2014 (Forestry Commission 2010). The preparatory activities have focussed on addressing issues such as the manner by which benefits from the REDD+ scheme will be shared equitably amongst stakeholders as well as the mechanisms by which the carbon stocks conserved and enhanced through the REDD+ scheme will be monitored, measured, verified and reported to meet acceptable global standards. Ghana is well on course to achieve these objectives and the nation is presently piloting REDD+ activities as a final step of the preparatory processes.
The focal point of the REDD+ scheme in Ghana is the Climate Change Unit of the Forestry Commission. The Climate Change unit serves as the secretariat of the National REDD+ Technical Working Group which is within the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources.
The implementation of the REDD+ scheme in Ghana is proceeding with complementation from other sustainable forest management initiatives which are outlined below. First, Ghana has entered into a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with the European Union since November, 2009. The essence of the VPA is to ensure that only legally produced timber from Ghana is exported to the EU. The advantage of the VPA stems from the fact that almost half of Ghana’s locally produced timber is exported to the EU and consequently such an agreement will be helpful in addressing illegal logging (USAID 2011).
The Government of Ghana has also been implementing an ambitious plantation programme under the National Forest Plantation Development Programme since 2001. The programme has a target of establishing 20,000 hectares of tree plantations each year. The programme is being implemented with a variety of stakeholders including the local communities, through the Modified Taungya Programme which incorporates plantation establishment with agriculture, as well as engagement of private developers under the Private Plantation Development Programme.
Ghana has also been systematically implementing the Non-Legally Binding Instrument (NLBI) on all types of forests since 2008. The NLBI was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 and is focussed on ensuring that forest management interventions are implemented in a transparent manner where all relevant stakeholders are actively engaged and provided with adequate information on all initiatives.
The REDD+ scheme is therefore been implemented within very positive forestry initiatives and interventions in Ghana. It is anticipated that if the support for the scheme is sustained by the government through its relevant agencies, the REDD+ scheme will not only represent an opportunity for Ghana to reap the monetary and other co-benefits associated with sustainable forest management but it will also ensure that the country actively partakes in global efforts on climate change.
This article sought to shed light on human induced climate change and the essential roles of forests in climate change. Additionally, the article outlined global and national efforts aimed at incorporating forestry in climate change. The important role of forests in climate change and other essential natural processes which make life as we know it possible should inspire all of us to plant trees, nurture trees, fight the menace of deforestation and support all other forms of sustainable forest management strategies. It is often accurately pointed out that when the last tree dies, the last person dies.