General News of Friday, 29 September 2006

Source: GNA

Ghana losing 65,000 hectares of forests each year

Ho, Sept. 29, GNA - Ghana is losing her forests at a rate of one point three per cent (65,000 hectares) per annum according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Mr W E K Bimah, Volta Regional Manager of the Forestry Services Division of the Forestry Commission, announced this at the launch of "Greening Ghana/Mosquito War Initiative Education Awareness Campaign" at Ho on Thursday, an initiative of the Environmentally Concerned Citizens Association of Ghana (ECCGA), a non-governmental organisation. He said by the year 2000, the forest area of Ghana had diminished to about 1.6 million hectares from about 8.2 million hectares. Mr Bimah said the main causes of this were unsustainable lumber exploitation, urban and industrial expansion, indiscriminate forest fires and surface mining.

He said the effects of forest decline varied but included loss of biodiversity, erratic rainfall patterns, drying up of streams and rivers and "savanisation" of forest areas.

Mr Bimah said to address this situation, the President John Agyekum Kufuor launched the President's Special Initiative on Plantation Development in 2000 and since then a number of institutions and organizations and individuals had vigorously embarked on plantation development throughout the country.

He said since then more than 200,000 hectares had been established throughout the country by all these organisations and individuals and commended the German government for its immense contribution in supporting the FORUM Project in the Volta Region, which had so far established over 6000 hectares of degraded forest reserves in the Ho and Jasikan districts.

He appealed to chiefs and assembly members to cooperate with the government and NGOs to vigorously pursue programmes that would lead to the achievement of the agenda for growth, poverty reduction and environmental enhancement.

Mr J Y Aidoo, National President, said the Initiative aimed at resuscitating and restoring "our natural environment to its former status" before Ghana's 50th anniversary and the CAN 2008. Mr Aidoo said the task of promoting a good environmental management could be performed successfully if the citizenry understood its benefits and the role each person had to play.

He said the ECCGA in collaboration with other stakeholders like the Forestry Services Division, Ghana Education Service, district assemblies, Department of Parks and Gardens and the Environmental Unit of the Ministry of Health would mount platforms to educate the public on tree planting and the war against mosquitoes.

Mr Aidoo said tree seedlings suitable for planting in each region in the country had been identified and efforts were already underway to obtain the right number of seedlings to meet the needs of every community that would be covered by the ECCGA.