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Protection of Ghana’s lands and natural resources intact – Lands Minister

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The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor, has assured Ghanaians that the protection of Ghana’s lands and natural resources entrusted in the care of his ministry is intact.

He added that the government, under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo, will continue to adopt and implement policies necessary for the effective protection, preservation, management and utilisation of the lands and natural resources of the country for the benefit of the Ghanaian people.

“We understand that the resources we have been entrusted to manage are for the people of Ghana, and our duty is a fiduciary one which requires us to responsibly and intelligently ensure that Ghanaians benefit from them,” he said.

The Minister gave this firm assurance while addressing the press at the Minister’s Press Briefing held on Tuesday, February 28, at the Ministry of Information in Accra.

Also in line with the Protection agenda Mr. Jinapor said the Forestry Commission, with the support of the Ghana Armed Forces, has cordoned off all forest reserves and wildlife protected areas, to rid them of illegal mining and illegal logging.

Protection of Ghana’s lands and natural resources intact – Lands Minister
“Last year, two hundred and twelve (212) suspects were arrested by the Rapid Response Team of the Forestry Commission for various forest and wildlife offences. These suspects are standing trial at various courts across the country.

“The Team, also, seized and/or decommissioned scores of equipment and forest products; including forty-four thousand five hundred and twenty-two (44,522) assorted lumber, fifty-four (54) vehicles and seventeen (17) excavators,” he said.

Delving into more developments in the forestry sector, Mr. Jinapor announced that the ministry’s flagship aggressive afforestation and reforestation program, Green Ghana Day, will see to the planting of 10 million seedlings, in this year’s edition.

This he said will enable the ministry to devote much attention to nurturing the over thirty million trees already planted in the last two years, to ensure that all these trees reach maturity.

In addition to the Green Ghana Project, the Lands Minister said his ministry is in partnership with the Departments of Parks and Gardens, and Urban Roads in implementing a Green Street Project, under which trees are being planted in the medians of streets and avenues of major roads in the various cities of the country to beautify the cities while contributing to the fight against climate change.

In recognition of Ghana’s forest climate change policies, the Minister said Ghana has been made co-Chair of the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership (FCLP), a new political forum that brings governments and other partners together to implement solutions that help reduce forest loss and land degradation while supporting sustainable development.

Highlighting on developments in the lands sector, Mr. Samuel A. Jinapor said a National Land Conference was held in December last year to, among others, increase public awareness and potential benefits of Act 1036, foster high level support and ownership of interventions to tackle land governance, and to empower, and develop capacities of land sector stakeholders.

A multi-stakeholder platform he noted is being established, with a secretariat at the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, to implement the recommendations of this Conference.

“The Commission is also, working with the Ghana Police Service to provide protection for all public lands and prevent them from further encroachment”.

He continued that the Lands Commission, in collaboration with the Ghana Police Service, has undertaken a number of operations to recover encroached public lands.

Protection of Ghana’s lands and natural resources intact – Lands Minister
The Minister also updated the public on the construction of Lands Commission office complexes, saying that “the construction of the seven-storey Lands Commission Head Office is about eighty-five percent (85%) complete, and is expected to be completed and handed over by the end of this year.

“Phase II of the Greater Accra Regional Office is also expected to be completed by the end of the third quarter this year. Construction of the Tema District Office complex commenced in February, 2022 and the first phase is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of this year”

The Minister Further stated that the government has decided to redevelop the eighty acres (80 acres) of land around the Kotoka International Airport, stretching from Stanbic Heights, through Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) Regional Office, to the Ministry of Defence, into a modern commercial hub.

Agencies located within the enclave, including the Ghana Police Service, DVLA, Ghana Airport Company Limited, and Ghana Meteorological Agency, are being relocated to Kwabenya, close to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission.

Touching on the mining sector, Mr. Jinapor disclosed that the transformative policies set in motion by government in the mining sector are yielding positive results.

Protection of Ghana’s lands and natural resources intact – Lands Minister
He noted that government has actively supported the small-scale mining sector with a number of policies. He revealed that the decision by government to reduce the withholding tax on unprocessed gold from small-scale mining firms has resulted in a meteoric rise in gold export from the sector.

“Last year, Government reduced withholding tax on unprocessed gold by small scale miners, which was introduced in 2015, from three percent (3%) to one point five percent (1.5%). This has resulted in a massive increment in gold exports from small scale mining, from three thousand four hundred and twenty nine point nine one ounces (3,429.91oz) in 2021, to twenty-two thousand one hundred and fifty eight point two five ounces (22,158.25oz) in 2022, that is over five hundred percent (500%) increment”, he said.

He further disclosed the reformation of the small-scale mining sector which is manifested in the fight against illegal mining has led to the reduction of turbidity level of some major water bodies in the country which were hitherto polluted by galamsey activities.

The Minister maintained that despite the remarkable success chalked in the fight against illegal mining, the government and the ministry will continue to step up effort to protect the country’s natural resources.

He said through the acquisition of speedboats, establishment of community mining schemes and the resourcing of the National Alternative Livelihood Program (NALEP), the Ministry is transforming the small-scale mining sector.

“When I took my turn here last year, I announced that the ministry was procuring speed boats to patrol our rivers to rid them of illegal mining. I am happy to report that five of these boats were procured, and have been patrolling our river bodies.

“We have also trained river guards who will be deployed to guard the rivers day and night. Operation Halt II will continue to support these measures. The Ghana Association of Small Scale Miners (GNASSM) has, also, adopted River Birim, and is working closely with the Ministry to halt illegal mining activities on this river.

“We have also inaugurated all eighty-three (83) small scale mining committees in the various mining districts, in accordance with section 92 of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), to assist the district offices of the Minerals Commission to effectively monitor, promote and develop mining operations in their jurisdictions.

“This is the first time, since the passage of Act 703, that small scale mining committees have been established in all mining districts in the country. Under the Ghana Landscape Restoration and Small Scale Mining Project, we are training members of these committees to build their capacity efficiently perform their functions.

“These measures have yielded some positive results, with most of our river bodies visibly clearing up and the turbidity levels improving. That is not to suggest that we have rid the country of illegal mining. As we speak, the cartels involved in these illegalities continue to operate, and are finding every means to outwit us. But we will not relent on our efforts, we will continue to adopt the necessary measures to ensure that we come to grips with this canker,” he said.

Protection of Ghana’s lands and natural resources intact – Lands Minister
Touching on developments in the large scale Mining space, Mr. Jinapor announced the arrival of four new mining companies which will start production within the next two years.

“For over a decade now, we have not had any new large scale mining operation in the country. Happily, following significant investments in exploration, four (4) new large scale mining operations will start production within the next two and half years, including the mining of lithium, one of the critical minerals required for the green energy transition,” he said.

He further noted that plans to make the country a mining hub where mineral products are refined with value added to the raw materials are on course.

“We have, through a Public – Private Partnership, established a gold refinery which will soon commence refining our gold. We have had several engagements with Rand Refinery of South Africa, a London Bullion Marketing Association (LBMA) Referee, to secure LBMA certification for gold refined in Ghana, to enable us easily export and trade our refined gold on the international market.

The Minister also declared that as part of the government’s digitalization agenda, the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands, with the support of the German International Cooperation (GIZ), has developed an OASL Revenue Application (OASL RevAPP), to support the collection of stool land revenue.

Adding that staff in all nine (9) operational regions of the Office have been trained, and are using the app for data collection, billing and payments.

The Ghana Boundary Commission he mentioned, has completed the construction of a land boundary terminus (Pillar 1) on the Ghana – Togo border, and paved way for the country, this year, to commence the second phase of the boundary delineation.

He was quick to add that the Land boundary reaffirmation exercises with Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso also continue unabated.

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