The Forestry Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-FORIG) is advocating for urgent steps to reverse the rapid loss of Ghana’s forest cover to preserve the vegetation for the benefit of present and future generations.
The institute estimates deforestation in Ghana at 135,000 hectares per year, a situation it is predicting may exacerbate in the wake of the changing climate.
Dr Gloria Djaney Djagbletey, Head of Forest and Climate Change Division, CSIR-FORIG said forests provided a host of vital goods including food, fodder, medicines, mushrooms, timber, snails and game, hence, they must be protected.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency after a tree planting exercise to commemorate this year’s Green Ghana Initiative, Dr Djagbletey said the forests also provided services such as removal of pollutants from the atmosphere, serving as windbreak, protection of soil from erosion and protection of watersheds, among others.
As part of activities to mark the day, staff of CSIR-FORIG planted trees at the Fumesua Police Station, Kumasi Science Village and along the CSIR stretch of the Accra-Kumasi highway.
They then moved to Okyerekrom where they joined pupils of the R/C Basic School to plant more trees.
The Scientists also took some time to engage the pupils on the importance of planting trees and the need to nurture them to maturity to reap its benefits.
Dr Djagbletey expressed concern about how forests in Ghana had been under serious pressure from clearing for increased food production and new settlement, legal and illegal wood harvesting, sand winning and mining.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation, according to her, had estimated that 420 million hectares of the world’s forest had been lost since 1990, through conversion to other land uses at the rate of 16 million hectares per year.
However, the rate of deforestation reduced to 10 million hectares per year between 2015 and 2020, globally, which was still worrisome, she said.
“There’s, therefore, the urgent need to preserve and reverse the rapid forest loss to ensure sustainable production of the good and services to benefit present and future generations,” she indicated.
She said if nothing was done about the loss of the forest or vegetation cover, climate change effects may ruin the efforts being made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
She, therefore, applauded the Green Ghana Day Initiative by the government, which seeks to restore the forest cover of Ghana and called on stakeholders to support the initiative.