You Have A Role In Exposing Nature Crimes – Owusu-Bio Tells Journalists

A three-day workshop aimed at equipping journalists with knowledge on filing reports on crimes against nature has been held by the US Agency for Global Media on Wednesday, 17 August 2022.

The training, which had participants from various media houses across the country, was aimed at equipping the media practitioners with the necessary skills so they can generate story ideas and identify expert sources for nature-crime stories.

Speaking at the workshop, the Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources responsible for Lands and Forestry, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, said the Ministry is mandated to ensure sustainable management and efficient utilisation of Ghana's natural resources.

The Deputy Minister asserted that crimes against nature are considered to be organised crimes due to the multiplicity of actors involved and the devastating and lasting effects they have on the environment and food security.

He highlighted some major crimes in the forestry sector as illegal logging in reserves, poaching of wildlife, illicit trade in wildlife, and mislabeling of containers at the ports, among others.

The deputy minister added that a number of measures have been put in place to address these challenges.

Touching on the land sector, he said multiple sale of land parcels, the land guards menace and encroachment are some key challenges being dealt with.

He said a Public Lands Protection Team has been inaugurated to reclaim encroached state lands and protect state lands from further encroachment.

Speaking on issues in the mining sector, the minister noted that several interventions, such as the declaration of river bodies as "red zones for mining", revamping of community mining, and the distribution of one hundred mercury-free machines, are some instructive ways the government is addressing the illegal mining challenge.

The minister urged journalists to work in close collaboration with the ministry as well as state and non-state institutions to harness resources to effectively deal with organised nature crimes.

Delivering her opening remarks, Ms. Nicole Chulick of the U.S Embassy, said: "We know nature crimes harm the environment but they also harm communities by stealing resources that could benefit the locals".

She also encouraged the media to educate the communities about nature crimes, stating: “You can help show the harm that nature crime does to the communities. You can also help create an understanding and ultimately prevention of nature crimes," she added.

Present at the workshop with the deputy minister were the chief executive, Forestry Commission, Mr. John Allotey; Technical Director, Forestry, Mr. Joseph Osiakwan; Technical Director, Lands, Mr. Maxwell Adu-Nsafoa; Technical Director, Mines, Mr. Peter Awuah; and other officials from the ministry.