Ghana’s forests to go in 23 years if…
Ghana faces the threat of losing its forest cover and becoming a desert if the current rate of deforestation continued without support from all stakeholders in efforts to switch on to the use of regenerative and early maturing plant species, Mr Henry Kamel Ford, a Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources warned on Friday.
He said Government was exploring ways to conserve the traditional wood species and promoting the lesser used plant varieties like bamboo and rattan, which had very high regenerative capacities.
Mr Ford gave the caution when he interacted with Members of the Greater Accra Bamboo and Rattan Association, occupying the edges of the Switchback Road, in Accra.
In a stock-taking of the forest resources of the nation, Mr Ford pointed out that the cover which was about 8.3 million hectares in the year 2000 shrinked to 1.5 million hectares in the year 2006, adding that if the current rate of depletion of 65,000 hectares continued, Ghana would have no forests in 23 years’ time.
Consequently, Government is promoting the use of bamboo and rattan as suitable alternative to wood, not only to conserve the traditional woods, but because bamboo had nutritional values and could be used in the aviation, construction and the textile industries.
Mr Ford said the Ministry had begun a capacity programme for stakeholders in the bamboo industry, and was collaborating with the governments of China and the Philippines for training to enhance the use of the product in Ghana.
“We are now taking bamboo seriously, and we are now sourcing fund for the growth of the bamboo and rattan industry,”
Mr Ford said government was ready to support the acquisition of land at Ayimensa, near Accra, to localise the bamboo industry to make it a one-stop shop for bamboo products.
Currently most artisans in the bamboo and rattan industry are scattered in the city of Accra at the Switchback Road, along the Achimota Tetteh Quarshie Road and the Arts Centre, without any good shelter, making it difficult for them to work when it rains.
The Minister inspected some furniture made from bamboo and rattan by the artisans and how they had recycled the waste materials to mould animals such as giraffes, lions and other forest species.
The Deputy Minister said it would perhaps become possible for school children to use bamboo furniture when the industry was fully developed to save the nation’s traditional wood species.
Mr Vincent Mawuli Vordzi, General Secretary of the Association, said the main problem facing the 500 member association was the acquisition of land.
He said the nine plots acquired so far was not large enough to accommodate all its members.
Mr Vordzi called on the Government to empower the Association to issue licenses for entry into bamboo enclaves for the harvesting of the plant, and also help the Association check the illegal export of bamboo products while measures were also taken to expand the market for the bamboo products.