By: Fred Yaw Sarpong- Daily Expres
A report on the review of the legislative proposals for the implementation of the 2012 forest and wildlife policy called for an amendment to the Forestry Commission (FC) Act 1999, (Act 571) to provide the commission the power to regulate broadly off-reserve areas.
The review of the final report was tasked by the Ministry of Lands & Natural Resources and was made available in June 2016.
The report argued that the Forestry Commission Act mandates the commission to manage the national forest reserves and protected areas. However, the Act does not extend that power to off- reserves areas.
The report said the Forest Commission has however fashioned a practice where it regulates the allocation of off-reserves resources thorough the grant of permits. “This is also in a draft state in the Off-Reserve L.I that has been presented to Parliament more than once, but it yet to be laid on the floor of Parliament and passed,” it stated.
The report also noted that there should be continuously survey and inventories all off-reserve potential timber production areas, and constitute them into forest management units, covered by forest management plans with active involvement of the local landowners.
It called for developing the capacities of decentralized local institutions including the, Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDAs), Traditional Authorities, and Civil Society organizations in sustainable “off-reserve” timber resources and non-timber products (NTFP’s) management.
The consultant also recommends the insertion of a provision, requiring the Forestry Commission to undertake the regulation with the involvement of local landowners and Community members.
It also recommends the amendment of the Timber Resources Management Act to provide for the regulation of the permitting regime in off-reserve areas and to subject them to similar process, as that of a Timber Utilization Contract.
“The Forestry Commission Act should be amended to provide a direct duty on the commission to regulate small and medium scale forest industries,” the report stated.
The report said the Timber Resources Management Act should be amended to grant a resource right to small medium scale concessions.
“Consequently a Small Scale Forest Regulation should be adopted which will address largely issues of licences of small/medium scale enterprises; qualification of applicant for license; conditions and duration of grant of licence; and establishment of community based small/medium scale forest enterprises,” said the report.