Let’s Protect Our Forest Cover

Ghana was rich in green vegetation about four decades ago. At that time, the country was a net exporter of timber. In fact, apart from cocoa and gold, timber fetched us the highest amount in foreign exchange.

Unfortunately, country’s forest cover has reduced through our actions, inaction and natural disasters such as drought. For instance, in 1983, Ghana suffered a severe drought that brought in its wake widespread bushfires that destroyed the country’s forest cover.

We used to relish the role timber played in the local economy of the forest belts of the Western, Eastern, Ashanti, Central, Brong Ahafo and Volta regions.

In Kumasi, for instance, the timber companies helped to boost the economy of the Garden City of West Africa. But today, all the timber companies are nowhere near the glorious days when they provided employment for the teeming youth of the Ashanti Region and beyond.

The collapse of the timber industry is seen as one of the reasons for the slow nature of business activities in the twin city of Sekondi/Takoradi and the poor state of the Takoradi Harbour.

Presentful, the country’s climate has changed as it has become difficult for weather forecasters to forecast rainfall for agricultural purposes and other human endeavours. Climate change has affected the vegetation, the rainfall pattern and agricultural productivity.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations (UN), 21.7 per cent or about 4.94 million hectares of Ghana is forested. Of this, 2.51 million hectares, that is 49.2% is classified as primary forest, the most bio-diverse and carbon dense form of forest.

About two decades ago, Ghana lost an average of 125,400 hectares of its forest cover. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Ghana lost 33.7 per cent of its forest cover or around 2.508 million hectares.

These statistics look very frightening, and the earlier something is done to protect our vegetation against widespread exploitation the better for the country.

Two years ago, there was talk that Ghana should resort to the importation of wood on a larger scale in order to safeguard our forests and provide raw materials for the construction industry.

The destruction of the vegetation will not only affect logging and wood for furniture and other construction work; it will also affect the flora and fauna, thereby disturbing the people’s very existence on earth.

Today is aware that government has not been sleeping over these frightening developments and is giving it equal attention as it has given to the fight against small scale illegal mining known in our local parlance as ‘galamsey’.

But Today thinks government must up its game by ensuring that no powerful forces undermine its effort to fight the canker.

Deaforestation is real and the solution to it, as demonstrated by even Sahelian states such as Burkina Faso, is the recourse to afforestation.

Meanwhile Today commends government in its effort to halt illegal logging of timber in our forest reserves.