Ghana will observe the International Day for Biological Diversity on Sunday, May 22.
The Day was adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2000, for Member States to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues in their respective countries.
The international theme for this year is: “Biodiversity and Forests” with the local theme as “Help Save Our Forests.”
A statement issued by the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technbology in Accra on Friday, said this year’s observance of the Day coincided with the 2011 International Year of Forests, also declared by the United Nations General Assembly.
It is a day set aside to create public awareness about the value of forests and the extreme social, economic and environmental costs of losing them since forests constitute one of the diversities of biological resources supporting the socio-economic development of countries.
The benefits of forests are far-reaching. Forests catch and store water, stabilise soils, harbour biodiversity and contributing to regulating climate and the greenhouse gases that have been identified as one of the causes of climate change.
Locally, forests generate profits for international businesses and provide essential income and resources for most Ghanaians. Yet, despite the growing understanding and appreciation of the benefits derived from forests, they are still disappearing at an alarming rate.
As the ongoing climate change negotiations demonstrate, awareness is growing that reducing deforestation and forest degradation and play a large part in the response to the combined threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation.
“The Ministry would like to support this renewed emphasis on the importance of forests to sustainable development, “the statement said.
This year’s International Day for Biological Diversity is devoted to highlighting the need for urgent action.
The Ministry is, therefore, appealing to the people of Ghana to value the contributions forests provide for their survival and support conservation efforts in the country.
“We wish to make a special appeal to chiefs and their communities to hold firm to their respective cultures which support forest and related ecosystem conservation,” it added.
The statement said MEST and the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources would jointly celebrate the Arbor Day this year and award prizes to non-governmental organisations, schools and communities that had been selected for the tree-planting programmes.
The Ministry also launched other environmental events linked to the conservation of forests.
These are World Environment Day, World Day to Combat Drought and Desertification, Africa Day for Scientific Renaissance and International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer.