All over the world, more premium is being placed on the conservation of forests and the planting of tress in order to preserve both fauna and flora.
It is not for nothing that it is usually stated that “when the last tree dies, the last man dies”. Scientists are quick to explain that one of the important functions of natural vegetation is that plants, and for that matter trees, take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the day, a very useful mechanism for the sustenance of human life on earth.
Additionally, forests play a key role in protecting the soil from erosion and reducing the incidence of flooding during downpours.
Yet, the earth has suffered significant exploitation of its forests. For instance, while some time ago forests covered about 50 per cent of the total land area of the earth, today they cover just about 30 per cent of the total land area.
After the rapid deforestation of the past, a global effort at afforestation is being encouraged, leading to some countries initiating efforts to preserve forest belts.
However, the efforts in developing countries such as Ghana have not been so impressive and that can be attributed to a number of factors, including ignorance, unregulated urbanisation and poverty, which sometimes spurs the unbridled cutting of trees for commercial purposes.
It is, therefore, not so surprising that the Achimota Forest in Accra is considered the largest remaining urban green-belt in the country, in spite of the fact that its initial size of more than 500 hectares has reduced to 360 hectares as a result of encroachment. The fact that the forest is being threatened by encroachers on a daily basis makes the situation even more alarming.
The seriousness of the threat is what has prompted the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Alhaji Collins Dauda, to caution that in the face of massive encroachment, the efforts at protecting the Achimota Forest are not yielding the desired results. Indeed, the sustenance of the forest is now on a precipice and there is the need for radical and urgent measures to reverse the trend.
For many years, some concerned individuals and organisations have expressed concern over the fate of the Achimota Forest and called for urgent and effective measures to save it.
The DAILY GRAPHIC is impressed by the efforts being made by the government to preserve the forest, and in that regard the proposal to develop it into an urban ecological theme forest is, no doubt, a timely response to the demands of the time.
Yet, we also need to emphasise that this project may be just a drop in the ocean with regard to addressing the challenges of deforestation in the country.
There is no doubt that the need for an aggressive afforestation drive and expansive forest conservation projects is very pressing now more than ever.
Indeed, in the past, there had been some piecemeal approaches to afforestation and forest conservation and, as was to be expected, the impact had not been impressive.
It is our hope that the relevant non-governmental organisations and, indeed, all Ghanaians will provide more support to the government in its bid to conserve the country’s forest cover and plant more trees to protect our environment. Source: Daily Graphic
http://www.modernghana.com/news/277925/1/saving-our-forests.html Published: Monday, May 31, 2010