General News of Monday, 28 April 2014
An average of 85% of Savanna Accelerated Development Agency-sponsored trees planted within the Northern Savannah Zone of Ghana survived, a “draft final report” issued by the University For Development Studies (UDS) has revealed.
The trees were planted by ACI Construction Limited, a company said to be a subsidiary of Roland Agambire’s AGAMS Group. The plantations followed a June 2012 contract signed between ACI Construction Limited and SADA, an independent State agency responsible for coordinating a comprehensive development agenda for the northern savannah ecological zone in Ghana.
“The average percentage survival of all the planted species in the SADA plantations were very high (85%) with the highest (88%) recorded in the Eastern Zone and the least (76%) in the Southern Zone,” says the report.
It adds, “A total of 145 plantations were surveyed in all the four afforestation zones encompassing 45 political districts in 5 regions. Eight tree species were planted in the various operational zones namely; Tectona grandis, Senna siamea, Albizia lebbeck, Khaya senegalensis, Mangifera indica, Anacardium occidentale, Eucalyptus spp. and Moringa oleifera.”
According to the report, Prof. S.K.Oppong led the four-member-team of experts that evaluated the SADA tree-planting project. It names the other members of the team as W.J. Asante, Mr. D.Tom-Dery, and Mr. B.N. Baatuuwie.
The UDS report, titled “Evaluation of SADA-ACILCL Afforestation Project,” comes at a time SADA is facing fresh public anger after recent news reports claimed that although the authority sunk some 32.4 million Ghana Cedis into its afforestation projects, the investments appear to have so far shown very little value for money.
For instance, one news report published some two weeks ago said: “At the Kamina Barracks afforestation site, not even a single tree planted had survived.”
“The situation in the Upper East Region is worse,” a Joynews report published on April 15, 2014 said.
“Upper East Regional Coordinator of ACI Construction, Raymond Agbontor, who took the Joy News team round the Winkogo Afforestation site in January this year, said the trees were withering because all the workers had been laid off.”
In what appears to be a carefully calculated move to counter the recent revelations, sources close to SADA leaked details of a December 2013 report on the afforestation project to the media.
“Generally, the percentage survival of the seedlings was good, but require good cultural and management practices such as regular weeding, beating up, pest control, as well as effective monitoring to enhance the general health of the plantations,” says the report which was leaked on Monday.
“Effective control of bushfires in the dry season will be imperative to the survival of the plantations. Therefore, the creation of fire belts must be fundamental in all the plantations,” the report ––– which was prepared by the Faculty of Renewable Natural Resources of the University for Development Studies, Tamale –– adds.
“The dream of SADA to ameliorate environmental degradation and mitigate climate change as well as create jobs for the unemployed youth in its operational area will not be a mirage but a reality,” the UDS report says. “This is evident as plantations have been established simultaneously across all the political districts within the SADA programme area."
The report goes on, “Plantations assessed across the zones have high and diverse spatial coverage and high seedling survival percentages. This implies that cultivation and nurturing of fast-growing woody tree species especially along water bodies, marginal lands and on degraded lands across SADA operational zones is already in place and growing by the day and it is hoped will help combat environmental degradation, mitigate climate change as well as improve the living standards of the people in these areas through job creation”.
“Based on the phase of development of the afforestation project, successes achieved so far and the preparedness of ACICL, it is being suggested that ACIC Limited be allowed to continue providing the technical and management support for the project until the plantations are well established,” the report concludes.
SADA was established in 2010 to help speed up development in northern Ghana. It is governed by an independent Board of Directors appointed by the President. Government gave the Authority an initial capital of 25million Ghana Cedis as part of a move to help a Development Fund, established for the project, to grow. SADA seeks funds of up to 145 million US dollars to execute its mandate.
SADA’s jurisdiction comprises the three regions in the north of Ghana namely, Upper East, Upper West and the Northern Region. It stretches to include districts located in the north of Brong-Ahafo and Volta regions.
Officials say SADA forms part of Ghana’s policy response to the widening effects of climate change associated with floods and drought in the north of Ghana.