Otumfuo Osei Tutu ll, Asantehene, has reiterated his commitment to provide protection and introduce measures to restore and protect areas around water and river bodies with responsible environmental activities in the Asante Kingdom. He made the announcement during the visit of the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Prof. Kwabena Frimpong -Boateng at the Manhyia Palace.
Prof, Kwabena Frimpong- Boateng and his team of technical heads from agencies such as The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Forestry Commission(FC), FC’s Wildlife Division, FC’ Forest Services Division(FSD)and COCOBOD were at the palace to explore a possible collaboration with the Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme.
The ongoing Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme is promoting the adoption of Asante traditional ecological knowledge, through appropriate socio cultural land management practices like (proka, taboos and by-laws). The programme is also promoting the use of climate-smart agriculture technologies to build resilience of smallholder farmers within the cash and food crops landscapes targeted under the project.
Asante Kingdom’s rural economy is highly dependent on the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors, thus making land resources, including agricultural lands, forests, natural habitats, and water bodies critical for growth. Forestry, and agriculture sectors including cocoa production account for more than 53 percent of land use and employ about 60 percent of the population in the kingdom, including closely to 53% of women. Agroforestry, dominated by cocoa and subsistence farming have been the backbone of the kingdom and for that matter Ghana’s economy for decades. He said, “a vast majority of an estimated 800,000 farmer households in Ghana who are directly dependent on cocoa production for their livelihoods are in the Asante Kingdom. These smallholder farming systems are heavily reliant on the forest and agro forest ecosystem services, including rainfall, pollination, wind breaks, soil fertility, water bodies and socio-cultural resources
The programme began in 2019 with a landscape restoration intervention around Lake Bosomtwe by planting on 4,000 hectares of land with 3 million trees over a five year period. This, Otumfuo hoped, should ultimately help contribute to improved ecosystem service provision, climate change mitigation, and improved environmental consciousness among inhabitants of fringe communities around the Lake. Other stakeholders include the Forestry Commission of Ghana, Environmental Protection Agency, Water Resources Commission, Ghana Tourism Authority, UNESCO, the District Assemblies of Bosome-Freho and Bosomtwe as well as the Lake Bosomtwe Community Resources Management Areas (CREMA)
Ghana’s only natural lake, Lake Bosomtwe, has since 2016 been designated a Biosphere Reserve Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote healthy balance between biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use. The move was a response to the appeal made by the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, for the protection of the lake.
The Project Coordinator of The Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme, Mr Fred Kyei Sapong, said “The Asante Kingdom Land Restoration Programme is in line with several global and national policies, plans and strategies that focus on protecting water bodies, wetlands, halting deforestation caused by human activities, ecosystem restoration and economic development’.
The visit by Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng ,the sector Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation confirmed the modest gains made by the project and the need for more work to be done to reverse land degradation in order to unlock the development potential of the areas and speed up the socio-economic development of the area.