Forestry Commission executive visits nursery sites in Tamale to encourage green activists to prepare for nationwide tree planting
Ghana’s tree cover is fast depleting – a direct result of the activities of illegal miners, loggers and charcoal burners who exploit our forests recklessly with no sanction by the law.
Environmentalists have expressed alarm about the speed at which the Sahara Desert is approaching Ghana’s borders.
But now the Northern Region has outdoored a local contribution towards an innovative Green Ghana campaign with a working visit to Tamale by the deputy chief executive officer of the Forestry Commission, Sulemana Nyadia Nelson.
Damage from galamsey
To counter the ravages of commercial business owners who use the nation’s forest resources without regard for the environmental impact, the government launched the Green Ghana Project in March this year. Working through the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, government officials are planning a national programme of activities to mirror the International Day of Forests, which took place on 21 March.
Under the Green Ghana Project, the government intends to plant five million trees on one day – 11 June. The project aims to encourage Ghanaians to plant more trees to repair the damage being done by rapid depletion of the country’s forest cover.
On 11 June, with the support of the Forestry Commission and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, Ghanaians will plant five million trees to begin to counter the impact of lost forest cover.
Recent reconnaissance by the Ghana Armed Forces for Operation Halt II, the new fight against illegal mining in the southern half of Ghana, has exposed the shocking extent of the damage that the practice familiarly known as “galamsey” has inflicted on forest areas of Ghana and the way it has polluted water bodies.
Sulemana Nyadia Nelson told environmental campaigners in Tamale that he decided to visit the Northern Region to assess its preparedness towards the 11 June tree planting exercise.
He explained that in Ghana, urbanisation has had a ruinous effect, placing undue pressure on the environment.
Making poverty worse
“The forestry sector is beset with challenges that we all never thought we’d have,” Nelson said. “We are experiencing illegal logging of very high proportions. We are also experiencing mining in forest reserves and the pollution of our water bodies.
“All these are contributing to the reduction of the tree and vegetation cover. In the long run, it’s exacerbating poverty.
“We are a population that depends heavily on natural resources. A lot of us here are farmers and the rest depend on the forest and its resources for their livelihood. People burn charcoal for their livelihood; people log for their livelihood. And all of these are dependent on our natural resources.”
The Forestry Commission official emphasised that the environmental damage Ghana faces is a challenge that confronts all Ghanaians and knows no personal distinctions.
Nyadia expressed anxiety about the rate at which the problem has grown with the increase in Ghana’s urban population.
“Years back, the population wasn’t this [large],” he said. “Now Tamale is urbanising and the urban population is exerting immense pressure on these resources.
“If we want to reverse the situation we need to begin to plant. So that as you take, for instance, one tree, you plant five . . . Otherwise, in the next 50 years, this will be a desert.”