The Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme held it’s 5th Stakeholder Meeting on Tuesday, February 2nd 2021 to review progress made so far and outline an action plan for the year 2021. In attendance as was expected, were the representatives of the major stakeholders and programme partners which are Oheneba Poku Foundation (OPF), Manhyia, Water Resources Commission (WRC), CREMA, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA), Bosomtwe and Bosome Freho District Assemblies, and Chiefs of some fringed communities of the lake.
Dr. Peter Twum gave the welcome address on behalf of Nana Adu Mensah Asare, stating the purpose if the meeting as a review of project activities which were carried out in the previous year, 2020. He continued by saying, the review was meant to highlight achievements and correct shortfalls. He ended by admonishing stakeholders that, their activities and deliberations will consequently have effects on future generations to inherit the natural resource.
The Project Coordinator of The Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme, Mr. Fred Kyei mentioned that, one goal of the project was to plant one (1) million trees at designated zones around the lake. However, only 315,000 were planted with destroyed seedlings being replaced. He stated that, national lockdown due to COVID-19 was a major factor which hindered progress of project activities but for the enthusiasm and willingness of community members, seedlings would not have been planted. He also stated that, some logistics including watering cans, wellington boots and cutlasses given community members were not durable and that, Hon. Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng (Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation) had pledged to donate some logistics in support of the project. He added that, there were plans to purchase pillars for the demarcation of buffer zones around the Lake Bosomtwe.
The District Chief Executive for Bosomtwe, Joseph Kwasi Asuming, Esq, reminded the house of the importance of the lake Bosomtwe as a natural resource and a national asset and hence the need to be conserved and protected. He stated therefore that, the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) be involved in the pursuit to protect the water resource. He reminded stakeholders that, by-laws regarding the use of the water resource have been gazetted and therefore must be enforced. He added that, members of fringed communities have been well informed and educated on proper use and protection of the Lake and it was now necessary to enforce the laws.
Mr. Fred Kyei sighted some instances of illegal activities practiced around the lake and therefore expressed the need for enforcement of the by-laws. He informed the house about a jingle which has been created by the Foundation to enhance awareness creation and which should be broadcasted at community centers of every community around the lake. This would further sensitize community members of the consequence of illegal practices which destroy the Biosphere Reserve.
He continued by stating the following activities and actions to be undertaken within the year 2021;
- Tree planting would be done at designated buffer areas to ensure plants are not destroyed by humans and animals
- Proper record keeping of seedlings provided by stakeholders to communities. This he said, will improve accountability. Type of seedlings and designated lands for planting would be properly discussed with chiefs and communicated subsequently to stakeholders.
- By-laws; awareness creation and education on by-laws should be done in communities to clear any doubt of community members not being informed on contents of the laws. He stated that, a one-month education campaign on by-laws would be carried out.
- Hotels; issues of bad practices by some hotels around the Lake Bosomtwe were in the process of being resolved by the WRC in collaboration with the Foundation and Manhyia.
- Enforcement of buffer policies which would be backed by chieftaincy
- Galamsey activities have led to sedimentation and drying up of the lake. Hence, the Forestry Commission would be contacted to enforce their regulations in affected areas within the Biosphere Reserve.
- Climate Smart Agriculture; restrictions to be set on the use of agrochemicals around the Lake. Farmers would be given education on best practices. Establishment of demonstration farms in selected communities would be done.
- Use of illegal fishing methods and equipment, such as plastic traps, by fishermen would be replaced with sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as bamboo traps. Education would be given to fisher folks.
- Taboo days for fishing would be re-enforced by chiefs to aid replenishment of fish stock. Shrubs and vegetation along the banks of the lake would be protected from being cleared or harvested since they serve as breeding grounds for fish.
- Provision of logistics to communities
He stated additionally that, there should be proper monitoring of tree planting activities to ensure seedlings are planted at designated areas. Mr. Kyei also expressed the need for joint efforts by all stakeholders in carrying out activities to achieve goals of the land restoration programme.