Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II has reiterated his commitment to providing protection and restoring areas around river bodies by ensuring responsible environmental activities in the Ashanti region.

He said this when the Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng called on him at the Manhyia Palace.

Accompanied by his team of technical heads from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Forestry Commission (FC) – Wildlife and Forest Services Division and COCOBOD, the visit was meant 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.

Project Coordinator of the Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme, Fred Kyei Sapong, explained that the programme is also promoting the use of climate-smart agriculture technologies to build the resilience of smallholder farmers within the cash and food crops landscapes.

Ashanti Region’s economy is highly dependent on agriculture, and forestry, thus making land resources like the agricultural lands, forests, natural habitats, and water bodies critical for economic growth.

Available statistics suggest that the 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 close to 53 percent of women.

Agroforestry, dominated by cocoa and subsistence farming have been the backbone of the Asante Kingdom and for that matter Ghana’s economy for decades.

Asantehene observed that a vast majority made up of an estimated 800,000 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 Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme therefore was meant to protect the land which is the main economic source of the people.

The programme began in 2019 with a landscape restoration intervention around Lake Bosomtwe by planting 3 million tress on 4,000 hectares of land over a five year period.

315,000 trees have been planted so far along the Bosomtwe. The target is to meet the 3 million trees by 2024.

Prof Frimpong Boateng plants tree

This, the Asantehene hoped, will help improve the ecosystem, climate change mitigation, and environmental consciousness among inhabitants of fringe communities around the Lake.

Meanwhile, 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.

Project Coordinator of the Asante Kingdom Landscape Restoration Programme, 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 the Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng confirmed the modest gains made by the project.

He reiterated the need for more work to be done to prevent land degradation in order to unlock the development potential of the areas and speed up the socio-economic development of the area.