Cabinet Approves New Wildlife Resource Management Bill

Samuel Abu Jinapor

Cabinet has approved the new Wildlife Resources Management Bill, 2021, at its seventeenth meeting held on Thursday, October 28.

A statement from the Public Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources said the bill is seeking “to revise and consolidate all laws relating to wildlife and protected areas, bring the new legislation into conformity with existing policies in the sector and provide for the implementation of international conventions on wildlife to which Ghana is a signatory.”

According to the ministry, “the current legislation that governs wildlife and protected areas, the Wild Animals Preservation Act, 1961 (Act 43), the Wildlife Conservation Regulations, 1971 (L.I. 685) and the Wildlife Reserves Regulations, 1971 (L.I. 710) were enacted some fifty and more years ago, and are now not in tune with current international best practices for wildlife protection and management.”

“These laws do not provide a proper legal framework for the implementation of the Forest and Wildlife Policy, 2012, the Forestry Development Master Plan (2016-2036) and other national and international frameworks that guide sustainable resource management, all of which were adopted years after the current legislation,” the statement said, adding “apart from these deficiencies, the current legislation does not clearly define the aims and objectives of wildlife management and the various categories of protected areas, as well as lack deterrent sanctions for wildlife offences.”

It said the new Wildlife Resources Management Bill has been developed through a very extensive consultative process involving both state and non-state actors to address the gaps and shortfalls in the current wildlife laws.

“The Bill provides for a new management structure to give legal backing to the involvement of local communities in wildlife management through the creation of Community Resources Management Areas (CREMAs) and provide higher penalties and sanctions regime for wildlife offences, deterrent enough to protect our wildlife resources,” it said.

“Also crucial is the fact that, the Bill when passed, will provide for the implementation of several International Wildlife Conventions to which Ghana is a signatory, such as the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance Especially as Waterfowl Habitats (RAMSAR) 1971, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, (CITES), 1973, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (BONN) 1979, as well as several indicators in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”

The statement said wide consultation with relevant stakeholders in the review process has engendered a lot of support, inputs and good-will from all actors and this provides a good indication of a successful implementation of the bill when passed by Parliament into law, adding that “the Bill is now ready to be presented to Parliament for its consideration, and hopefully, passage.”