Cabinet has approved the new Wildlife Resources Management Bill, 2021, during its 17th meeting.
The Bill seeks to revise and consolidate all laws relating to wildlife and protected areas, and bring the new legislation in conformity with existing policies in the sector.
It will also ensure the implementation of international conventions on wildlife, of which Ghana is a signatory.
This is in a statement issued by the Public Affairs Unit of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
It said the current legislation that governs wildlife and protected areas, including 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) enacted some 50 years ago were 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.
Apart from the deficiencies, the legislations did not clearly define the aims and objectives of wildlife management and the various categories of protected areas, and also lacked deterrent sanctions for wildlife offenses.
To address those gaps and shortfalls in the current wildlife laws, it said a new Wildlife Resources Management Bill had been developed through a very extensive consultative process involving both state and non-state actors.
The Bill will provide for a new management structure to give legal backing to local communities in wildlife management through the creation of Community Resources Management Areas (CREMAs) and ensure higher penalties and sanctions regimes for wildlife offenses, which is deterrent enough to protect the wildlife resources.
When passed, it will provide for the implementation of several International Wildlife Conventions of, which Ghana is a signatory.
These include 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).
Cabinet’s approval of the Bill means that it is now ready to be presented to Parliament for consideration, and hopefully, passage.
The statement said the extensive consultation with the relevant stakeholders in the review process had engendered a lot of support, inputs, and goodwill from all actors and provided a good indication of a successful implementation of the Bill when passed into law by Parliament.