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Ghana can’t fight climate change as country loses 183 million tonnes carbon stock in 20 years

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Ghana’s ability to fight climate change has been weakened as the country’s carbon stock in its forests has systematically reduced from 564 million tonnes to 381 million tonnes from 1990 to 2010, which means 183 million tonnes has been lost in the past two decades.

This loss suggests that the country’s ability to contribute towards fighting the global climate change menace has been seriously reduced, despite the many interventions made in recent times by government and Ghana’s forest sector players to reforest much of its degraded forests.

Ghana’s forest area stood at 4,940,000 hectares representing just 22 percent of the country’s land area as at 2010, while a loss of 115,000 hectares representing 2.1 percent was also recorded from the year 2000 to 2010 (FAO, 2010).

According to latest statistics on the world’s carbon stock and stock change in living forest biomass as contained in the 2010 report on the state of the world’s forests released in March 2011, Ghana lost 99 million tonnes of its carbon stock from 1990 to 2000, having experienced a reduction from 564 million tonnes to 465 million tonnes.

The report, which was released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), showed that there was a further decrease in the country’s carbon stock to 423 million tonnes in 2005, indicating a reduction of 42 million tonnes in just five years.

From the year 2005 to 2010, Ghana experienced an additional but consistent loss of  42 million tonnes from 423 million tonnes to 381 million tonnes out of the West Africa sub region’s total loss of 369 million tonnes for the same period representing 16 countries.

Thus, Ghana lost 77 tonnes per hectare of its carbon stock in 2010 and suffered a deficit annual change of -10 from 1990 to 2000 and an improved deficit of -8 from 2000 to 2010 calculated per 1000 tonnes.

With the current statistics therefore, Ghana has experienced one of the highest losses of carbon stock in the West Africa sub region and is second only to Nigeria on the table.

Nigeria tops with a loss of 232 million tonnes of its carbon stock in five years from 2005 to 2010, having suffered a reduction from 1317 million tonnes to 1085 and thus an annual deficit change rate of -47 calculated per 1,000 tonnes, from 2000 to 2010.

Ghana is followed by Liberia, which has suffered a reduction in carbon stock from 666 million tonnes in 1990, to 625 million tonnes in 2000. There was a further reduction to 605 million tonnes in 2005 and to 585 million tonnes in 2010.

Unlike Ghana though, Liberia consequently lost 135 tonnes per hectare of its carbon stock in 2010 and suffered a consistent deficit annual change of -4 (4,000 tonnes), from 1990 to 2000 and also from 2000 to 2010.

Conversely, countries in the sub region which have excelled in retention and increase of their carbon stock are Gambia, Cape Verde and Cote d’Ivoire.

Whereas Gambia tops with an increase from 29 million tonnes in 1990 to 32 million tonnes in 2010 with 0 annual change rate from 2000 to 2010, Cape Verde follows with a boost from three million tonnes to five million tonnes, also with 0 annual change rate for the same period.

Cote d’Ivoire on the other hand experienced an increase from 1811 million tonnes from 1990 to 1832 million tonnes in 2000, 1847 million tonnes in 2005, but suffered a reduction in carbon stock with a figure of 1842 million tonnes in 2010. It therefore experienced an annual change rate of 1,000 tonnes from 2000 to 2010.

The report however showed no figures for Togo.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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