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Sir John
Sir John

Ghana’s Forests under siege … From illegal logging, mining & more

Even as Ghanaians have unanimously  risen against illegal mining which is  deemed  to be  causing  harm to our  water bodies, the country still risk missing out on the  fight  against climate change and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if the current scale of forest destruction continues.

Human actions such as forest clearance for mining activities, harvesting of  fuel wood, illegal logging,  unsustainable farming practices, rampant wildfires, poaching, charcoal burning, collection of fuelwood in commercial quantities, infrastructural development among others mean that, forestry  in  Ghana is undergoing serious challenges.

There are over 100 forest reserves in Ghana and each of them is endowed in one mineral resource or the other. While these forests provide us with clean air and water, and local communities with food, shelter and livelihoods, the primary focus of others is to destroy it for purposes of satisfying their political interests.

It is interesting to note that the Atewa range forest reserve in the Eastern region is the source of three major rivers namely: River Densu which supplies the Weija lake, River Ayensu and River Abirim. It is also a source of water for agriculture, industry and domestic activities.

Public Agenda understands that forest reserves including the Supuma, Subri, Bonsa, Upper Wassaw, Apamprama, Desin, Oda among others are being degraded at an alarming rate due to  human activities including  Illegal logging and mining.

The trend has led to the pollution of water bodies, while large tracts of forests have been depleted.

It is estimated that the rate of deforestation currently stands at 65, 000 hectares per annum and Ghana’s total forest cover, which stood at 8.2 million hectares, representing 34 per cent of the total land area, at the turn of the last century, had decreased to 1.6 million hectares.

It is on record that about 70 percent of Ghanaians depend on wood fuel for their household energy needs and as a major source of livelihood. The annual consumption of wood fuel is estimated at 16 million m3. Wood fuel is a very important energy source for households and its use is dominant in rural households who depend on it for cooking and for small-scale processing activities.

Risk of importing water

In particular, experts have predicted that Ghana risks importing water from the neighbouring countries, or may have to desalinate sea water to supply its populace if the forests from where many rivers and streams take their sources from are not properly conserved.

The prediction, they said, may come to pass if the rampant felling of trees and illegal mining   activities in the country’s forests reserves continue indiscriminately as currently being witnessed.

A former Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Hon.Nii Osah Mills some time ago  stated that water and forests are essential needs for every household in Ghana and all over the world therefore  any effort to preserve  the  resources  in any   form   will mean  preserving  them  for the  people  and  their  livelihoods.

He emphasized that, “forests have a close relationship to our water resources and hence sustainable forest management is of vital importance for the supply of good-quality fresh water, protection against natural hazards like floods or soil erosion and for combating desertification.”

He further  observed that  the  greatest challenge facing  the  nation  presently  is  how  to preserve the forests and   water resources  to ensure  that they continue  to  provide  the  economic, social  cultural  and  environmental services to the current and future  generations.

 “It is quite obvious that all over the world today, the forests from where many rivers and streams take their sources are declining at a rather faster rate than they are being replenished.

 “This situation,  indeed    is  worrying  and  if not reversed,  could  pose  serious  threats  to the economic , social and biological wealth  of  many  nations, especially  those  of  us in the developing countries  whose  livelihoods  are most dependent on the  forest   and  water resources.”

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