Ghana confirms $24m deal to restore degraded forest reserves

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Ghana has confirmed that it is to launch a major new project to restore degraded forests across the country and expand a sustainable forest plantation, having secured funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The country received the approval for the project and funding at the end of last month, in a first-of-its-kind Public-Private Partnership (PPP) in Ghana’s forestry sector. The sustainable project is to be backed with a $10 million concessional loan from the Climate Investment Funds‘ Forest Investment Program (CIF FIP) which was approved earlier this year, alongside an additional $14 million from the AfDB.

The major scheme was approved just one day after the country ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change at the United Nations in New York and highlights the country’s commitment to boosting its climate action and sustainable development pledges. Under the Paris Agreement, the country’s planned restoration of its forestry sector will help to ensure it meets its commitments under the Agreement. The planned project is being created with a private Ghana-based company called Form Ghana, which uses the banner ‘Forests for the Future,’ and works to apply sustainable plantation management in order to entice high levels of new investors in the forest plantation sphere.

Forests in the country once covered a third of its 24-million-hectare total landmass, but in recent years they have been degraded significantly as a result of illegal or excessive logging, along with increasing levels of fuelwood collection, agriculture, quarrying and mining. Now, the new project aims to boost the existing 5,000 hectares forest plantation overseen by the Forest Stewardship Council’s (FSC) to almost 12,000 hectares of sustainable commercial forest plantation. The new forested area will be comprised of 90 per cent teak and 10 per cent indigenous tree species.

Gareth Phillips, AfDB’s CIF FIP coordinator, said: “This is an exciting and significant investment in a key sector for Africa and one which provides multiple benefits to the continent. The FSC certification has been key in getting this project approved, as it provides investors with the confidence that the project is sustainable and at the same time brings authentic long-term benefits to the communities and environment.”

The AfDB also predicts that other important benefits will come from the forestry project, aside from the obvious environmental ones. More than 400 direct jobs and 600 direct seasonal positions will become available as a result of the project, of which 40 per cent will be awarded to women in a bid to combat the traditional dominance of males in the forestry industry in the country.

It was also predicted that greenhouse gas sequestration would hit reach 2.8 million tonnes CO2 over the course of the coming 40 years, with a long-term average of 70,103 tCO2 on an annual basis.

GWD Forestry spokesman, James Barrett, said: “Ghana’s plans to dramatically boost its forestry sector will bring numerous benefits to the country, both in an environmental sense and a financial sense. Increasing the existing FSC 5,000 hectares forest plantation to almost 12,000 hectares of sustainable commercial forest plantation will also undoubtedly attract investors to the sector, which will be a positive for the country’s economy as a whole.”

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