Conservation Alliance advises government to promote tree ownership

Conservation Alliance, an environmental organisation that seeks to build capacities to conserve biodiversity has advised Government to show greater commitment to reforestation and promote tree ownership systems to encourage farmers to plant trees.

“Tree planting is key to mitigating the impact of climatic change,” Mr Yaw Osei-Owusu, Country Director of Conservation Alliance-Ghana said and explained that currently even though there was some legal and institutional arrangements on tree ownership, the processes involved in owning trees were slow, which did not encourage farmers to go into tree planting.

“It should be very easy for farmers to demonstrate that they planted the tree, to enable them to easily register the tree and own the tree but that is not the current situation,” he said.

Mr Osei-Owusu gave the advice when the Ghana News Agency (GNA) interviewed him on climate change and cocoa production in a run up to the Conference of Parties (COP) 17.

He lamented that the traditional practice of maintaining shade trees on cocoa farms was gradually fading away to the extent that very few or no trees were left on cocoa farm in the most parts of cocoa growing regions particularly the Western Region.

“While in the short term this may appear to enhance the total yield per acre when combined with high inputs fertilizer and agrochemical application, it will ultimately affect the productivity of the farms and the long term sustainability of the industry,” he added.

He wondered how we could slow down the adverse impact of climate change in the cocoa industry, if the very trees that were supposed to help to absorb the carbon, were being removed and not replaced.

Already, he added, the country was experiencing huge changes in weather conditions and there was little or nothing to show our commitment to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change.

Mr Osei-Owusu noted that rainfall amounts and patterns were changing due to climate change and climate variability.

“The changes in rainfall pattern will ultimately affect production even if it is not currently noticeable. The time that farmers expect rain, it does not rain and the time when they do not expect rains, it rains.

Sometimes, there is too much rain and they are unable to obtain any space to dry their cocoa beans,” Mr Osei-Owusu stressed.

He said too much rain for instance could promote disease incidence and enhance surface run offs into streams resulting in possible pollution from agro-chemicals.

Mr Osei-Owusu also noted that slight increases in temperatures were shifting the cocoa production belt southward resulting in increased pressure on remaining forests.

“How can we overcome rural poverty when the source of livelihood of our people (the forests) is being destroyed?” he asked and added that forests contributed to the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and the rural poor through subsistence uses, environmental services, employment and income-generating activities.

He noted that rivers and streams had not been spared and recalled a study conducted in 2010 that indicated that over 60 per cent of rivers and streams in cocoa farmers were becoming seasonal.

“The sad aspect of this situation is that the same farmers claim most of these streams used to flow throughout the year in the past and wondered why the current situation,” he said.

Mr Osei-Owusu emphasized that one of the most effective mitigation measure was to promote the planting of trees and underlined the need for government to commit resources to the biodiversity status in Ghana.

He called on the government to implement an ’aggressive’ public education on climatic change and provide incentives for tree cultivation.

“Let’s invest in the forest,” he said.

Source: GNA

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