The Forestry Commission and Greenland Resources AB, of Sweden have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for large scale forest plantations in the Savanna Region of Ghana under a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
The plantations are expected to supply pulpwood for the production of paper and paper products in Ghana, for both local use and for export.
Over the past year, the Forestry Commission and the Greenwood Resources have been working tirelessly behind the scenes on the project after preliminary due diligence, pre-feasibility studies and a field reconnaissance assessment have confirmed viability of the undertaking.
Speaking to the media at the signing ceremony in Accra, The Chief Executive Officer of the Forestry Commission, Mr Kwadjo Owusu Afriyie, said, the project, when implemented, would radically transform the whole forestry sector and enable the sector to contribute substantially to GDP of Ghana.
Mr Afriyie indicated that from the seventh year of project implementation, the estimated 200,000 ha of plantation of expected to produce six million metric tons of pulpwood to feed the 1.5million ton production facility annually in perpetuity, since annual area harvested will be replanted.
According to him, the Plantation project including forest tree nurseries, is estimated to cost $ 0.8 bllion over the first rotation of seven years and another $ 2billion for the construction and establishment a1.5 million-ton pulp and paper Mill which would be sited in southern Ghana to facilitate exports among others.
Ghana currently imports an estimated $268 million of paper and paper product annually.
This project, according to the Chief Executives officer, will lead to significant foreign exchange savings and reduction in the price of paper locally.
Mr Afriyie explained that initially, three forests reserves in the Savana Region including the Yakombo Forest reserve in the Buipe Forest districts and KeniKeni and Yerada forest reserve in the Bole Forest District with the total area of 215,000 ha have been earmarked for the plantation project while two other reserves in the same region are being assessed for possible inclusion.
He noted, “the implementation of this project will therefore lead to the afforestation of an estimated 200,000 ha over seven years which will greatly enhance carbon stocks while offering protection and avoid degradation from annual wildfires, thereby helping in the global fight against climate change.”
He assured that “Forestry Commission is extremely committed to effectively partner Greenland Resources to ensure speedy and smooth progress of the feasibility phase by providing the requisite support and assistance where necessary. We appreciate that this is a large and complex undertaking, and we pledge the availability and support of our highly skilled and professional personnel and other resources to ensure that key challenges are quickly identified, diagnosed and viable solutions collaboratively developed to enable to enable the process move forward, and to ensure we quickly transition to the implementation phase.”
On his part Mr Torbjorn Johansson, President of Greenland Resources A. Sweden said, his outfit is dedicated to move the project into a full scale large and competitive pulp mill which will be able to compete in the top segment of the best performing mill around the world in all respect.
Mr Johansson pointed out that, “customers demand top quality products produced in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner and this project will deliver that. “
Greenland Resources, He indicated, has found a strong, eligible and transparent partner in the Forestry Commission of Ghana and they will work together to make this project a reality.
By Mohammed Suleman