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Forestry Commission, VRA to establish bamboo plantations to protect Volta Lake from destruction

BY: Seth J. Bokpe
Mrs Ellen Bannerman-Quist (left), the Director, Legal Services, Volta River Authority (VRA), and Mr John Allotey (right), Deputy Chief Executive of Forestry Commission (FC), signing the memorandum of understanding. Sitting in the middle is Mr Ebenezer Tagoe, the Deputy Chief Executive, VRA.  Picture: Maxwell Ocloo
Mrs Ellen Bannerman-Quist (left), the Director, Legal Services, Volta River Authority (VRA), and Mr John Allotey (right), Deputy Chief Executive of Forestry Commission (FC), signing the memorandum of understanding. Sitting in the middle is Mr Ebenezer Tagoe, the Deputy Chief Executive, VRA. Picture: Maxwell Ocloo

The Forestry Commission (FC) and the Volta River Authority (VRA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the establishment of bamboo plantations to protect the Volta Lake from the effects of erosion and encroachment.

Known as Bamboo for the Protection of the Volta Lake, the agreement includes the establishment of a 270-hectare bamboo plantation along the banks of the lake.

As part of the agreement, 400 community members will be trained in bamboo nursery establishment and management, while members in 71 communities will also be trained in bamboo processing.

The project, which will start this year, is expected to end in 2032.

According to the Deputy Chief Executive of the FC, Mr John Allotey: “The partnership has become necessary due to the fact that the catchment areas of the lake, including the gorge, which contains the dam, are threatened by deforestation on a daily basis as a result of livelihood enhancement activities in those areas.

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“This has affected the lake adversely, which sometimes manifests in the form of unsustainable generation of hydro-electricity, culminating in intermittent power failures, popularly referred to as ‘dumsor’.”

Bamboo

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According to experts, bamboo is a suitable material for rehabilitating degraded lands and receded water bodies.

Rivers such as the Yangtze in China, Lofa in Liberia and Mahaveli in Sri Lanka are protected by bamboo plantations.

Last year, during the commemoration of World Water Day, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) urged the world to use nature-based solutions such as plantations to protect wetlands and water plains.

Mr Allotey said it was in response to the UNEP call that the two institutions decided to enter into the agreement to save the country’s major hydro-power facility.

The VRA, in 2017, warned against the sale of or purchase and encroachment on lands within the Volta Gorge Protection Zone of the Akosombo Dam.

According to the authority, there had been an upsurge in encroachment on lands which fell within the buffer zone by developers, mostly in the hospitality industry.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Chief Executive of the VRA, Mr Emmanuel Antwi Darkwa, expressed the hope that the collaboration would open doors for other agencies to provide relevant financial and material support for the two institutions in their endeavour.

Owirenkyiman Forest Restoration project

In a related development, the FC has signed another MoU with the Owirenkyiman Traditional Council and Praxis Africa, an international NGO, on sustainable development.

It will also lead to the planting and nurturing of 48,000 medicinal, fruit and timber trees in the traditional area.

The Owirenkyiman Forest Restoration Project seeks to create awareness through public education on forest and wildlife management in the area.