form Ghana
Forests for
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Grand Opening of the Form Ghana Integrated Community Fire Management Project

Form Ghana started its bushfire campaign in November 2018 with the aim to make fire management efforts of farmers more effective and to reduce the fire incidences on farms and community land.

“Fire is a good servant and a bad master” were the opening remarks of Honourable Kofi Adjei, Chief Executive of the Berekum Municipal Assembly, at the Grand Opening of the bushfire campaign dubbed “Integrated Community Fire Management Project” initiated by Form Ghana Limited, a plantation company operational in Tain II Forest Reserve. He referred to the fact that fire is an effective tool used in farming for multiple purposes but if uncontrolled, it can cause a lot of harm. Two Grand Openings were held in the communities of Kotaa and Akroforo (Berekum Municipality) and Arkokrom (Tain District) respectively to launch the campaign.

 

Legal and safe use of fire as a tool during fire season

Form Ghana started its bushfire campaign in November 2018 with the aim to make fire management efforts of farmers more effective and to reduce the fire incidences on farms and community land. Although the use of fire is critical for farmers to prepare their lands, its use during fire season (from November to March) is prohibited under the current bylaws. But the use of fire in itself is not a problem. What makes it problematic is that farmers are not supported by the current fire management structures and the bushfire bylaws. This promotes unsafe and uncontrolled use of fires during the fire season resulting in dangerous situations and the destruction of houses, crops and even human lives. The baseline study of the project shows that farmers must be facilitated to burn legally and safely in the fire season. It is therefore essential that bushfire bylaws will be made suitable for the reality and needs of the farmer.

 

Community Fire Volunteers become Fire Trainers

To show that fire can be used safely during fire season, Form Ghana trained leaders of the already existing community fire volunteer squads of the three communities to serve as trainers. These leaders will now train the farmers of their communities. The community fire volunteers will be supported by the Field Extension Supervisors and the fire fighters of Form Ghana. These community fire volunteers are incentivised and provided fire management tools and a mobile phone to call for assistance in case of emergencies (wildfire outbreaks). Farmers can burn the vegetation, provided that the leaders of the community fire volunteers have granted permission based on the “Fire Danger Index” or “Egya Kɔkɔbɔ”. This newly introduced tool gives indication of the fire risk for a specific area at a given time using some parameters such environmental factors and weather conditions to indicate whether it is safe to burn. The campaign aims to promote responsible burning which will result in a decrease in uncontrolled fires in project communities.

 

The Grand Openings

The participants in the Grand Opening of the project at Kotaa and Arkokrom showed much enthusiasm for the project. It is clear that fire plays a crucial role in our society. We cannot and we will not ban the use of fire. But we must control it. This message was reflected in the speeches by Daasebre Dr. Anankona Diawuo II Omanhene of Berekum Traditional Council and The Acting President of the Seikwa Traditional Council, Nana Yaw Kaka III and also in the drama performed by the school children of Arkokrom. In his speech, the Managing Director of Form Ghana, Mr. Willem Fourie, expressed his gratitude to the Community Fire Volunteers, who have already fought a number of fires at the border of the Forest Reserve, shoulder to shoulder with the firefighting teams of Form Ghana in the current fire season. For him, this already shows the success of the project.

 

Landscape restoration programme for Forest Reserve Tain II

Uncontrolled fires remain a big threat to properties, crops, buildings and human life. When this persist, farmers get demotivated from planting trees and tree crops such as timber tree species, cashew, cocoa, oranges, etc. In 2017, Form Ghana Ltd (FG), together with Form International, a consultancy company from The Netherlands, initiated a landscape restoration programme in and around the Tain II Forest Reserve. This programme strives towards sustainable land use. It promotes the restoration of natural forests and productivity of agricultural land in order to improve the livelihood of the communities surrounding the Tain II Forest Reserve. The programme promotes tree planting and supports nature conservation in general. In the end, this will result in a productive buffer zone around the Forest Reserve. This Landscape restoration Programme is supported by the UK government through the DFID funded Partnerships for Forests programme and DOB Ecology.